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Skeptics Begin Petition for Referendum on Downtown Buffalo Grove Proposal

Members of Save Buffalo Grove are collecting signatures from residents who want the Village of Buffalo Grove to put the downtown development proposal to a vote.

Save Buffalo Grove, a group of citizens opposed to the sale of the Buffalo Grove Golf Course for a downtown development, has started a petition for a community-wide referendum on the plan.

The group's online petition, which outlines the downtown development proposal, states that "citizens of Buffalo Grove are concerned about the fiscal cost to taxpayers, the environmental impact, and potential detrimental effects on the quality of life that such a project would pose on Buffalo Grove residents."

Residents and business owners who sign the petition are asking that the village "conduct a community-wide, binding referendum (a vote) prior to any project approval, sale of any property, or the expenditure of any taxpayer dollars on the downtown Buffalo Grove proposal by CRM Properties Group or any other developer."

“The downtown project, as proposed by [the developer], has tremendous implications for our taxes, environment, business climate, zoning, housing, education, roads and public safety,” Dan Petersen, organizer of Save Buffalo Grove, said in a statement released by the group Friday. “These issues, given the magnitude of this proposed plan, need to come before the community at large.”

Village President Jeff Braiman said Friday morning that he was not aware of the petition, but he called the action "premature."

"In order to take it to a referendum, I think you have to know what the question is," he said. Village officials have met with the developer to discuss topics such as financing, but no decisions have been made. It's possible that the proposal could change or that the parties won't come to an agreement at all, he said. 

Even later, Braiman said, the village might not hold a referendum.

"You get into situations where I think you have to rely on the good faith of the people who are making the decisions. We spend money all the time," he said, referencing specific items such as ash tree replacement as well as the general ones such as the village's annual budget. "At what point do you start to ask for a referendum on everything? And that's a difficult question to answer."

Save Buffalo Grove held its first meetings in October and November, and plans additional meetings in early 2013. These will include discussions with the Village Board members, and public meetings with the citizens of the community. The group plans to bring in experts to advise them on the various issues, it said.

"Public resources shouldn't be used to prop up a risky private development," Brian Costin, a member of the group, said in the group's statement. "Buffalo Grove taxpayers spent millions to build the municipal campus and golf course, and it shouldn't cost taxpayers a single dime to demolish and replace these valuable assets. We are getting organized to make sure the village addresses these concerns, and we will be conducting our own independent research to inform the public of our findings."

“As a grassroots group, we want to be involved with the village leadership, working with them, not against them,” said Leon Gopon, another member of the group. “Our trustees are just in the early stages of considering the downtown plan, but things can sometimes ramp up quickly, leaving many citizens in the dark. We want to make sure there is community awareness and involvement in the process and decision-making.”

“The trustees may believe that only residents surrounding the golf course are concerned about the downtown plan, but I think this is an incorrect assumption,” Save Buffalo Grove member Marilyn Weisberg said. “This new downtown plan stirs up concerns among most residents about what happened to the BG Town Center, how it was planned, how it has evolved, and how the village lost control of it. People don’t want to see this happening all over again. Plus, anyone who drives along Lake-Cook Road will be affected — this is a huge number of commuters and residents."

Braiman emphasized that the development is not "a done deal."

"They'll have their chance to comment, those in favor and against," he said.

The next step is for the village and the developer to enter into an agreement that identifies tasks and timelines for establishing finance and marketing plans. That's expected to come before the Village Board in January, he said.

Do you think the proposed downtown should be placed on a referendum? Tell us in the comment section below.

Would you like to Buffalo Grove to have a downtown? Take our poll.

Jerry Cain December 14, 2012 at 06:39 PM
The proposed downtown should be placed on a referendum and let the voters decide. Its simply too big of an issue to the residents of Buffalo Grove.
Cyn December 14, 2012 at 06:54 PM
For VP Braimen to say that he had no knowledge of the petition shows that he does not have a full understanding or appreciation of BG residents; in particular the Save BG Group who have been transparent in their efforts, both online and within the community. Does this imply that he is not following their efforts or concerns? Just wondering.
Abigail December 14, 2012 at 10:07 PM
I signed the petition because I don't want the village to go off and do this without any comments from the citizens. Like Jerry said, we should vote on this. I like the concept of the plan, but tearing down usable buildings to make way for more doesn't make much sense--especially in this economy. For those reasons I point to the Town Center, which is a disaster with empty stores and no actual 'anchor' store. What's to say this would turn out any better than the Town Center? Wasn't the Town Center supposed to be Buffalo Grove's 'Downtown' when it was proposed? See how well that worked out. If the village wants more retail and residential, why not focus on a re-do of the Town Center instead?
Charlie Barker December 15, 2012 at 08:38 PM
The current group of trustees seem to be completely oblivious or deliberating ignoring their constituents on this issue. I have yet to hear one person who is in favor of even what their concept is and I have been in BG for 20+ years. There has been a complete lack of any questions from anyone on the board and in fact all seem to be on board. When present with an alternate view of future development centered on the train station, the deafening silence from the board was a distinct departure from the almost universal praise of their new downtown idea. I don't say this as a proponent of the train station concept as opposed to the clear fact that the board has already seemed to have made up their collective minds. The only thing that has seemingly has been said is 'wait until we work out all the details and then you will love it.' If it takes a referendum to get their attention, to get them to realize the multitude of very legitimate concerns about their plan and openly discuss them, then so be it.
Lance LaCross December 16, 2012 at 01:25 AM
The few do not rule the many - let the voters decide how our taxes are to be spent.
Deborah Mills December 23, 2012 at 03:03 PM
If we have the money to build a "new" town center why not improve what we have and keep our local businesses plus attract new ones? We have a movie theater which is in dire need of funds to stay open, we have Eskape and other businesses already established. If We establish a TIF to build this huge area we provide less money not only to the Village but to our schools which need it. Why tear down perfect good newer buildings (village hall campus)? The whole idea should go to a referendum to be considered. Our Village leadership is not thinking straight on this one.
Stuart Tindall December 23, 2012 at 03:23 PM
It's been 4 months and the developer and Village Board have released no new information. It's time for them to put up or shut up.
LiLSuzQ32 December 24, 2012 at 01:30 AM
This is the most cockamamie idea I have ever heard in my lifetime. This (alleged) increased occupancy/use of the golf course would create a traffic logjam beyond imagination. How would Lake-Cook Road be widened at the Lake-Cook/Buffalo Grove Rd intersection? Take out the rectory? Take out Lou Malnatis? Take out Walgreens? Take out the building where I live, on the SW corner of the intersection? Dam up Buffalo Creek to build the road over it .... and then, where would the rain/flood water go, into people's basements? Seriously, this is the most ignorant proposal I have seen floated by the Village Board since I have lived here. I'd vote to recall the whole Board if they pursue this with any real thought of bringing it to fruition ... and I'd be moving OUT of Buffalo Grove ASAP, and taking my tax dollars elsewhere.
ROGER GORLICKI July 09, 2013 at 03:08 PM
IF THEY WANT A DOWNTOWN, WHY DID THE PARK DISTRICT JUST BUY A VACATED JEWISH TEMPLE TO CREATE AN ARTS CENTER FOR $4,000,000 ACROSS THE ROAD FROM THE HALF EMPTY EXISTING TOWN CENTER AND BRUNSWICK IS CREATING A NEW ENTERTAINMENT WHICH USED TO BE ESKAPE ?

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