‘Save Buffalo Grove’ petitions for downtown referendum
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
Save Buffalo Grove’s online petition is at www.savebuffalogrove.wordpress.com/sign-the-petition/
Updated: January 10, 2013 6:18PM
BUFFALO GROVE — Save Buffalo Grove members have two ways of achieving their goal, and one of them only requires four votes.
A group of Buffalo Grove residents, who have detailed tremendous concerns about the idea of a large-scale downtown development atop what is currently the village campus, is pushing for the proposal to be decided by a public vote.
Because a referendum question can only be placed on a ballot by elected officials, the Save Buffalo Grove members have launched an online petition hoping to sway the Village Board to transfer trustees’ power to the voters.
Save Buffalo Grove member Brian Costin explained that the group hopes that four of the names on the petition will end up being Village Board members.
“This is really something that merits a lot more community input,” Costin said. “We don’t think that this should just be up to six trustees and the village president.”
Buffalo Grove village president Jeff Braiman, however, said he thinks the elected panel should maintain its final vote authority. Braiman said that if Village Hall were to hand the decision to the public, the village also would have to define at what threshold proposals should continue to appear before residents going forward.
“Where do you draw the line between going to referendum and not?” Braiman asked.
At the center of the issue is an idea presented in August by CRM Properties Group founder Chuck Malk. His firm would buy much of the land that currently engulfs Village Hall, the police and public works buildings and half of the Buffalo Grove Golf Club; tear them down and build retail storefronts, restaurants, offices, new village facilities and parking. Trustees spoke highly of the concept at the initial meeting, but asked Malk to come back with additional designs and specifics. Votes are not scheduled.
The magnitude of the proposal has alarmed groups of residents, who have voiced concerns about TIF districts, storm water runoff, a potential project failure and increased local congestion. Others have noted the expense of replacing relatively newer buildings, and the idea of replacing them much taller structures.
Costin pledged that Save Buffalo Grove members are not entrenched against any proposal, but maintained that the group believes the project is so big and so important that voters should hold the power, in a binding referendum.
“We just want to make sure that it’s going to be something palatable to the taxpayers,” he said.
In response, Braiman pointed out that many voters would not be able to study it enough to tell if it was palatable.
“The main question is, ‘What information does the public have?’” he said referring to total package related to any proposal.
At the Buffalo Grove Countryside’s print deadline, the Save Buffalo Grove petition had gathered 214 signatures.
Costin said the shortest route to their referendum objective is to convince four of the trustees to sign the petition, which would prove a majority vote to put a referendum on the April 9 ballot.
“That’s our target; to convince these seven people that this is the best thing to do for Buffalo Grove,” he said. ~.