Residents move against downtown proposal, suggest recall effort
Buffalo Grove residents Joe McDermott and Dan Petersen own homes near the site of a proposed downtown development. They are members of the "Save Buffalo Grove" opposition group. | Stacia Timonere/for Sun Times Media
TO CONTACT SAVE BUFFALO GROVE
FACEBOOK: “Save Buffalo Grove”
Updated: October 4, 2012 7:57AM
BUFFALO GROVE — A group of Buffalo Grove residents who oppose the idea of a built-from-scratch downtown on the existing Village Hall campus has begun the process of recalling as many as four Village Board members who might favor the development.
Dan Petersen, the lead organizer of the “Save Buffalo Grove” community group, submitted to Village Hall on Friday a notice that its members intend to recall the four trustees who are not up for election April 7: Steve Trilling, Mike Terson, Jeff Berman and Village President Jeff Braiman.
Petersen acknowledged that his group understood the gravity of the recall notice, but added that he wanted to be certain that the Village Board understands the gravity of the group’s concerns about the proposal for an entirely new and large scale downtown.
“If they appear to be getting the message, and taking care of the citizens of Buffalo Grove, we won’t do that,” Petersen said Monday. “We don’t know the official positions of any of the trustees yet. There may be somebody that we don’t want to recall.”
Petersen, who lives near the Buffalo Grove Golf Course, said the 50-member strong Save Buffalo Grove group began organizing the week before Labor Day. The members’ goal, he explained, is to stop the proposal submitted in August by CRM Properties Group, Ltd., a Deerfield-based developer that hopes to buy about 65 acres of village property — possibly including nine holes of the golf course — and turn it into a commercial complex with retail stores, residential units, restaurants, a movie theater, parking, green space and more.
Village officials have made no decisions related to CRM’s proposal. Feasibility studies are pending, and the first preliminary votes are likely months away.
At CRM’s initial presentation, several trustees spoke of how impressive the proposal appeared. Members of Save Buffalo Grove, however, responded by saying they fear that they are fighting a done deal.
“The trustees, in my mind, have put on rose-colored glasses and they see only what they want to see,” said Bruce Rehberger, who lives a few blocks from the site, near Deerfield Parkway and state Route 83. “I just don’t buy their argument.”
Joe McDermott, whose property faces the golf course, urged the Board to keep in mind that CRM’s proposal doesn’t offer any nearby access to Metra’s passenger rail system, as CRM’s projects in Deerfield and Chicago have.
“(CRM is) trying to copy Arlington Heights, Mount Prospect and other places that have a train station,” McDermott said.
He added that he believes Village Hall, the Police Department and the public works station are all still early in their expected life spans, and should not be razed.
“Why tear down these good buildings?” McDermott asked.
All three Save Buffalo Grove members also said they are alarmed that a project so massive could be approved by a vote of the seven-member Village Board, and would not require a public referendum.
Petersen said some of the proposal’s ideas look attractive to him, but he added that most of the plan looks nonsensical.
“It’s like a ‘60s acid flashback,” he said, listing potential storm water retention issues and disdain for the height of potential residential towers. “We’re just trying to save our neighborhood from 10 years of construction.”
As for the group’s recruiting methods, Petersen passed out Save Buffalo Grove fliers during the Buffalo Grove Days parade, which drew the ire of the parade’s organizers. Event officials pointed out that he did not have a permit for distributing sheets of paper.
Going forward, Petersen said the group’s strategy will be to determine which board members favor the proposal and take action either by voting other candidates in April 7, or recalling those not immediately up for re-election.
To do that, the group will need thousands of signatures on recall petitions. Petersen said he was still trying to calculate the exact figure, but knew that the group will need 33 percent of the average of the turnouts for the last two municipal elections. They have 90 days from Friday to gather that many.
Petersen said the recall remains a last resort as Save Buffalo Grove’s preference will be to convince trustees to vote against the proposal.
“This isn’t the strategy that we want to take, let me be clear,” he said. “This maintains the ability of the people of Buffalo Grove to make a decision on this.”
On Tuesday, Braiman said he is aware of Save Buffalo Grove’s perspective and potential actions.
“They have the absolute right to do so,” Braiman said.
He added, however, that the Board is obligated to consider proposals, but that if the village and the developer cannot resolve concerns in a way that the board believes will benefit the village, the project may never move forward.
“The development may not proceed,” he said.