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Mayor's Message
Mayor's Message - August 2017

Dear Neighbors,

Grant funding is an important alternate revenue source that enables the Village of Hawthorn Woods to accomplish a variety of needed community projects without directly impacting our taxpayers. The Village has created a Grants Team comprised of employees from various departments that meets each week to seek grant funding for various improvements Village-wide, and manages grant funding that we receive as a result of our efforts.  I’m pleased to report that the Hawthorn Woods Police Department’s goal to enhance public safety to transform and simplify the fingerprint capturing process through Livescan technology will soon become a reality through grant assistance. This year, Chief Jennifer Paulus and the Hawthorn Woods Police Department were successful award recipients of the Powering Safe Communities Municipal Grant Program. We are pleased to partner with ComEd and the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus to enhance public safety in the Village of Hawthorn Woods. The Hawthorn Woods Police Department has been awarded $9,348.90 in order to purchase Livescan Technology. Livescan is an inkless electronic system that captures an individual’s fingerprint image and demographic data in a digitized format that can be forwarded to law enforcement agencies for state and national processing and real time communication with other jurisdictions. 

The Hawthorn Woods Police Department will have the ability to support and serve a growing number of residents, and empower officers through the improved delivery of information. A major benefit of this conversion is enhancing officer safety. This technology will allow officers to identify offenders quickly and obtain criminal history in an efficient manner. Additionally, the child identification software is a fast, easy, inkless and secure way to provide parents with their child’s vital information at their fingertips. The Village will soon be able to transform the outdated ink and paper fingerprint system into a secure, efficient and effective use of electronic technology to improve public safety services. We are eager to demonstrate innovation, improve public safety needs, and efficiently deliver public safety programs and services to our residents. Livescan electronic fingerprinting technology will allow us to reach our goal of advancing our in-house fingerprint processing to ensure that we are operating at the highest level of excellence.  

Speaking of excellence, Village Chief Operating Officer Pamela Newton recently earned the prestigious Credentialed Manager designation by the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). Chief Operating Officer Newton is the first employee in the history of the Village of Hawthorn Woods to earn the ICMA Credentialed Manager designation. She is one of only 117 ICMA Credentialed Managers in the State of Illinois and one of only 1,480 ICMA Credentialed Managers worldwide. The Board of Trustees recognized and honored COO Newton at the July board meeting for her commitment to lifelong learning and professional development as demonstrated through this remarkable achievement. 

Warmest personal regards, Joe


Mayor's Message - June 2017

Dear Neighbors,

I recently received a letter of retirement from Trustee Peter Ponzio, a valued member of the Village Board and Chairman of the Finance Committee. This news was followed by bittersweet emotions, as I have a deep gratitude for all of the time, effort and civic commitment Trustee Peter Ponzio has dedicated to the community over the past seven years. Trustee Ponzio recently sold his home in Hawthorn Woods, and is therefore no longer eligible to serve as a Village Trustee. He was originally appointed as a Village Trustee on June 21, 2010, and has loyally served the community of Hawthorn Woods. “Citizen involvement inspired me to run for office and become involved in helping to make the Village of Hawthorn Woods a great place to raise a family, bring new development to the Village and make Hawthorn Woods among the safest municipalities in the United States,” says Peter Ponzio.  

Peter is a man of great integrity and intellect. He also possesses a strong analytical mindset, and his sensible approach has served the Village well across many capacities. Among his many contributions as a trustee, Peter said he is most proud to have been part of the Village’s turn-around agenda. “Reflecting on my service to the Village, several things come to mind. The most notable is the turn-around in Village operations that was directed by Mayor Mancino, and executed with the help of staff and Village Trustees. The cooperation of all areas of the Village government in achieving this turn-around is a testament to strong leadership, guidance and perseverance; I am proud to have contributed in some way to this accomplishment.” In addition to supporting the turn-around agenda, Peter has assisted in refinancing the Aquatic Center bonds and bonds for Special Service Areas One, Two, and Three. He assisted with developing the Village’s Capital Improvement Plan, as well as establishing the comprehensive pay structure for village employees. He also frequently reviewed bank reconciliations and journal entries for accuracy. Peter dedicated his time to serving on multiple Village committees, including the Finance Committee, Human Resources Work Group, IT Work Group and the Business Continuity Work Group.  He also served as the Village’s book club leader, and shared his passion with fellow residents over reading and discussing various literary works. 

In his thoughtful retirement letter, Peter spoke very highly of the Village stating, “I have been employed for nearly fifty years in various jobs and have never had the opportunity to work in an organization where everyone is committed to the same goals and vision. That opportunity finally came working as a Trustee at Hawthorn Woods.” While he may no longer reside in Hawthorn Woods, Trustee Ponzio will always be a welcome member of the community. I speak on behalf of my fellow board members when I say that his presence at the dais will be greatly missed. Whether he was working with residents, other elected officials, or staff, Trustee Ponzio was respected by everyone who had the pleasure of working with him. I am grateful for the service of Trustee Peter Ponzio and to his wife, Palma Ponzio, for their support over the years and wish their family success and happiness throughout their next journey in life.  

Warmest personal regards, Joe


Mayor's Message - April 2017

Dear Neighbors, 

After 10 years of volunteer service to the Village of Hawthorn Woods, Trustee Neil Morgan will be finishing his elected term of service in May. Trustee Morgan has volunteered his time and talent to the citizens of Hawthorn Woods with dedicated professionalism since April 2, 2007. Neil has brought his talents as a CEO of a small business, his financial experience, and his passion for public safety to the Village as a volunteer with the Village Board, supervisor with CERT (Citizen Emergency Response Team), volunteer with the McHenry County Search and Rescue Team, and Chairman of the Village’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Committee.

Trustee Morgan was nominated for the Lake Zurich Area Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year award for his call to volunteer service, and his vision to lead the Village of Hawthorn Woods to receive numerous recognitions. Under Trustee Morgan’s leadership, the Village has received the coveted Storm Ready Designation, and his work continues to ensure that the citizens of Hawthorn Woods are safely notified in the event of an emergency, and that Village operations and critical institutions and businesses remain viable in the event of a disaster. Trustee Morgan has led the Village to write and implement our Emergency Operations Plan, and hold tabletop exercises to simulate real disaster mitigation.

Most notably, Hawthorn Woods has received the highest safety recognition from peers outside of the region by being honored as the Safest City in Illinois (Source: SafeWise), and one of the safest and most peaceful places to live in Illinois (Source: OnlyInYourState).  Recently, the Village of Hawthorn Woods was also ranked nationally as one of the safest small towns in the United States (Source: LendEDU). Trustee Morgan will be retiring as an elected official serving on the Village Board, but not from public service. Neil will be focusing his talents on serving the McHenry County Search and Rescue Team, CERT, and donating his time to assist women and college-aged females as they transition back into the business and job search environment. Neil also mentors young professionals with the Executive Club of Chicago and young entrepreneurial candidates.

The next time you see Neil and his family out at the Concerts in the Park or at one of the special events where CERT volunteers, be sure to thank him for his time and talent that he shares with this community. Neil Morgan is a shining example of community volunteerism, where one individual has made a lasting legacy in his hometown.

On behalf of the Village residents, we send our gratitude for a true hometown hero for his many philanthropic contributions to the community.

We welcome Jayne Kosik, our newest Trustee, to the Board who joins the other elected officials, Peter Ponzio and Kelly Corrigan, who answered the call to serve the Village of Hawthorn Woods. The Village is enriched by the talented residents who answered the call to public service. It is an honor for me, as your Mayor, to serve the residents with this talented group.

Warmest personal regards, Joe


Mayor's Message - February 2017

Dear Neighbors,

In 2016, the Village experienced a busy year of advancement on several major projects, as well as a surge of economic development opportunities.  A new 60 single-family home development called Stonebridge was approved by the Village Board, and the development is underway with its first housing permit under review.  

This year we increased our focus on properly allocating the true cost of each budget priority.  A detailed analysis with board participation and public input was conducted to prioritize programs and services in each department. As years go by and our priority budgeting strategy grows with data, we will be able to better plan our financial expenditures and prepare for future needs. A priority based budget is a living document that can be easily modeled to changing needs and priorities of future boards and residents. This strategy also allows for additional transparency of our finances, and provides a simple method of understanding why we spend, not just how we spend. You can read our priority budget document by downloading it from our website. I am also excited to report the Village was awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting by the GFOA for the 11th consecutive year.

After five years of hard work, Hawthorn Woods finally achieved the coveted Tree City USA designation.  This designation was a goal we had pursued since 2010. Staff initiated a plan to address each of the required criteria in order to achieve the Tree City USA designation, and Trustee Steve Riess and the Environmental Committee stepped up and volunteered to serve as the Village Tree Board.  With the assistance of local Eagle Scouts, a tree nursery was also created to expand our urban forest. I also want to acknowledge the Indian Princess groups and their families for volunteering to plant trees in our parks. It was truly a Village-wide effort in order to attain this designation. 

In 2016, much time was dedicated to resolve issues with Aqua Illinois and the EPA regarding their water ground storage requirements. Administration worked with Aqua to comply with certain standards regarding hydro-pneumatic and ground storage requirements. We currently house a 5,000 gallon tank, and Aqua designed plans to install tanks to increase the storage to 15,000 gallons. The long term solution is to build a second storage tank. 

Another project initiative prioritized last year included a comprehensive flood and drainage study that was conducted over a ten-month period by Christopher B. Burke Engineering firm. The results of this project accomplished several key initiatives, including the culmination of our first-ever storm water flood plan. This plan will assist the Village in obtaining grants for flood related projects, as well as prioritize our project expenditures for future budgeting initiatives. We coordinated these findings with the Stormwater Management Commission (SMC) as they are updating their comprehensive stormwater flooding maps. The Village also conducted an analysis of the Village-wide flooding survey that included a citizen survey of flood-prone areas. The new data and flood maps were included in the report to provide the Village with a plan of remediation and a priority list of projects for future capital funding. This information will assist the Village in setting drainage priorities throughout the Village.

Please visit www.vhw.org to read the complete 2016 Year in Review report. It highlights the full range of what the Village does, from day-to-day services to large-scale initiatives. It is an honor to serve the citizens of Hawthorn Woods alongside our professional Village employees and Board of Trustees.  Together, we have achieved remarkable accomplishments and advancements in municipal governance.

Warmest personal regards, Joe

Mayor's Message - December 2016

Dear Neighbors,

The Village of Hawthorn Woods is pleased to introduce to its residents a newly created financial
document called the Priority Based Budget. As a result of our innovative approach to serve the public with transparency and excellence, we have produced a new financial document this year that integrates budget policies, stakeholder goals and interests, financial revenues and expenditures, and reinvented the role of local government budgeting in Hawthorn Woods. Most organizations know what they do and how they do it, but very few have taken internal auditing exercises to determine why Village government services or programs are important. We value results, and wish to allocate our resources to programs and services based on the highest importance, and not just on historical traditions. We are pleased to provide the Hawthorn Woods community with the new Priority Based Budget.

The Priority Based Budget document is integrated with the 2017 Budget Book. The Priority Based Budget emphasizes the budget as more than an accounting document. It addresses priority policy and program initiatives, that you, our residents, have requested allowing us to allocate limited funds among competing needs. It focuses on what the government does, how it does it, and why the service or program is important. It also assigns a priority value from critical to low and builds the budget on how and why the funds are utilized in the community. We believe this communication tool will serve as a working document for planning, budgeting, and connecting our vision and goals to action-oriented deliverables of services and programs. Our Budget Book this year funds the highest priority items as identified by our stakeholders, and reflects authentic citizen influence and transparent accountability of public funds.

The purpose of Hawthorn Woods’ evolving priority based budgetary process is to provide a framework for allocating resources to fit with the priorities and future needs identified by the Hawthorn Woods community, creating a transparent citizen-driven document that bases fiscal planning on real needs and identifiable program usage. It is a hybrid of the zero-based budgeting process to which we currently subscribe, and includes elements of program based, and results based initiatives. This document is a hands-on tool that will be updated annually to assist in directing decision-making on results and outcomes based on informed choices and prioritized strategies. In short, it will facilitate the direction of our funding to receive the best return on our investment. This document allows the Village to more clearly depict our revenues and expenditures to plan for enhanced financial decision making. As a community that takes great pride in our award-winning innovative entrepreneurial approach to local government, this approach to exceed business as usual for governmental financial reporting ascends the Village to the highest level of excellence and transparency for our residents. This document is available for online public viewing at www.vhw.org, and can be found on the Finance Department webpage.

As the fiscal year comes to a close, your Village officials extend to you and your families
wishes for a happy holiday season and a prosperous New Year 2017.

Warmest personal regards, Joe

Mayor's Message - October 2016

Dear Neighbors,

I am pleased to share two recent accolades with you that drew national attention. On August 14, Officer Donny Rathje, representing the Hawthorn Woods Police Department, proudly welcomed home Hawthorn Woods resident Henry Solberg from his Honor Flight and escorted our veteran back home to Hawthorn Woods. Mr. Solberg, an Air Force Korean War veteran, attended Lake County Honor Flight #7. The mission of Lake County Honor Flight is to fly America’s veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit the monuments and memorials dedicated to honor their service and sacrifices. Members of local Lake County law enforcement agencies lined up at the North Chicago Police Department to travel to General Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to escort home twenty-one military veterans returning from their trip.

Back at Veterans Memorial Park in North Chicago, a gathering of family, friends, and members of the public wishing to express their gratitude, prepared for the military salute lineup to greet the veterans. The welcome home ceremony was an excellent opportunity to thank all veterans, past and present, for their selfless acts of service. We salute all veterans for their dedication, bravery and sacrifice not just on Veteran’s Day, but every day here in Hawthorn Woods.

In other recent news, Hawthorn Woods Chief Operating Officer Pamela Newton presented the Hawthorn Woods success story to a national audience on Monday, September 26, at the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) 102nd Annual Conference in Kansas City, Missouri. The ICMA Annual Conference attracted municipal leaders from over 28 different countries, and is the largest annual event in the world for local government managers. The conference enables local government managers to discuss key management issues, review local government developments, earn professional credentials, adopt policy statements, and conduct association business. COO Pamela Newton served as an expert lecturer and panelist along with the ICMA President at the special session, “Moving the Needle: You Can’t Be What You Can’t See,” based on working to increase the number of women in city management from its current 13% of the workforce. COO Newton discussed successful strategies for creating a gender-balanced and diverse municipal organization that embraces diversity and encourages hiring practices without discrimination. Hawthorn Woods continues to be a model of excellence across the nation and our equal opportunity hiring practices that select the best candidate for the job is renowned at the international level. Congratulations Team HW!

I hope to see you around town this autumn.

Warmest personal regards, Joe


Mayor's Message - August 2016

Dear Neighbors,

As summer winds down and fall quickly approaches, I would like to share a mid-year update on exciting news impacting our Village.  I am proud to report that the Village of Hawthorn Woods has continued to model excellence in local government, and for the second year in a row has led the State of Illinois in public safety. The Hawthorn Woods Police Department does an excellent job of protecting all of us and our property, as reinforced by the latest FBI Crime Report statistics of zero violent crimes and the third-lowest rate of property crimes in Illinois.  “Hawthorn Woods is not only the safest place to live in Illinois, but is the fifth safest in the entire country,” reports David Rutter, local columnist for the Lake County News-Sun and Chicago Tribune. Furthermore, our Police Department has been particularly affected by the recent turmoil in our nation and the multiple devastating attacks on law enforcement, beginning this year in Utah and Ohio and recently extending to Texas and Louisiana.  However, the special, cooperative relationship between the citizens of our community and our brothers and sisters in uniform is unparalleled.  We are thankful to have compassionate and caring residents like you that regularly thank our officers for their service and show appreciation for the challenges and risks they face daily.  Please know that your gratitude and appreciation has not gone unnoticed by the Village Board of Trustees, the Hawthorn Woods Police Department, and our staff.

I’m delighted to discuss a recent article published by the Lake County News-Sun and Chicago Tribune titled, “Hawthorn Woods not perfect, but it certainly comes close.”  It is a must-read for those of you that haven’t had the opportunity to take a glimpse at it yet.  It highlights this time of pride in our community, from being ranked the safest city in the State, to hosting popular concerts in the parks, to supporting the Little Free Library movement. Our community continues to earn respect for the excellent quality of life and effective and efficient core services we offer. As a resident, I could not be more proud of our prospering Village.

As an elected official, I am honored to be entrusted with the opportunity to serve all Lake County communities through the Lake County Municipal League’s initiatives this year that include legislative action, public affairs events and speakers, meaningful connections, and purposeful dialogue on important municipal issues.  I’ve served as President of the Lake County Municipal League since July 17, 2014 and was recently re-elected for the third consecutive year.  The League’s council of over 40 cities and villages in Lake County is dedicated to furthering excellence in municipal government through information sharing and networking, intergovernmental cooperation, and advocacy for the common interests of our membership.  I’m continually proud to represent Hawthorn Woods as President of the League and Executive Board Secretary of the Metropolitan Mayor’s Caucus. It is an honor and a privilege to represent Hawthorn Woods amongst numerous local, state and national organizations.

I thank you for your continued support of our Village and Board of Trustees.  I look forward to seeing you around the neighborhood this fall or at our Fall Family Fun Fest on Saturday, September 10.

Warmest personal regards, Joe


Mayor's Message - June 2016

Dear Neighbors,

With summer in full swing, I welcome you to take full advantage of all the programs the Village of Hawthorn Woods has to offer.  The Village offers many fun summer events, activities and programs to entertain you and your family.  The Village of Hawthorn Woods has become well known for its community events and warm hospitality. We hope you will come out and enjoy one of the many opportunities designed to make your summer enjoyable, meet your neighbors, and build our community. But here’s the best part-all of our programs listed below are free to our residents and guests. We provide these services from non-tax donations, so come out and enjoy all we have to offer. 

Concert in the Park Series: The Parks and Recreation Department is hosting the annual Concert in the Park Series with fourteen memorable performance evenings. Whether you enjoy classic rock, vintage Rock N’ Roll, pop, blues, or even Spanish classical, we have a musical genre planned for you.  Summer concerts are held on Friday evenings from 6:30pm – 8:00pm at Community Park, located at the intersection of Old McHenry Road and Quentin Road.  Food vendors are available on-site for every concert.  

Movies in the Park:
 Enjoy a cozy family night under the stars with our summer Movies in the Parks series for a fun, one-of-a-kind movie-going experience.  We have already hosted one movie this summer, featuring Minions. Our remaining 2016 features include The Good Dinosaur (July 15), and A Bug’s Life (August 19).  Movies begin at dusk in Community Park.  Bring a blanket and some popcorn!

Car Show Cruise Nights: Cruise on Over to Community Park and enjoy a night of cool cars. Your exotic and classic cars are welcome to park at Community Park and show off to compete for best car.  Spectators are welcome.  Parking opens at 5:00pm and trophy presentations are at 8:00pm.  Car Show Cruise Nights are paired with the Concerts in the Parks series; live music and food vendors will be available.  

Fireworks and Concert Event: Relax as we light up the sky in honor of our country on Sunday, July 3rd at Community Park.  The night is complete with live music featuring Soda performing from 6pm – 9pm.  Fireworks begin at dusk (approximately 9:15PM). Don’t miss this spectacular event.

4th of July Parade:  Please join us in celebrating America and our freedom with a parade through town, ending with a flag raising ceremony at Village Hall.  The parade begins at 10AM at the intersection of Falkirk & Lagoon and ends at the Barn. Let’s begin the day with a patriotic salute to our nation.

Summer is a great time to enjoy outdoor activities in Hawthorn Woods. Check the calendar at www.vhw.org/SpecialEvents for a full list of events, times, and locations. Enjoy your summer, and I hope to see you at one of our many fun special events.

Warmest personal regards, Joe


Mayor's Message - April 2016

Dear Neighbors,

On March 21, the Hawthorn Woods Village Board of Trustees received a special recognition celebrating Hawthorn Woods’ designation as a Tree City USA community.  The Tree City USA program has been greening up cities and towns across America since 1976 – and now Hawthorn Woods celebrates making the commitment to becoming a Tree City USA.  Trees make our village a special place to live.  They shade our homes, our businesses and our streets.  They clean our air and water, reduce storm water run-off, increase our property values, reduce energy costs and make our neighborhoods greener, safer and healthier.  And with special thanks to our Eagle Scout Jack Dahlinger and his troop, we now have a Village tree nursery to add species diversification for generations to follow.  We also acknowledge the Indian Princess groups and their families for volunteering to plant trees in our parks.

Tree City USA is sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and National Association of State Foresters.  The Tree City USA program is the framework for a healthy, sustainable urban forestry program.  In order to achieve Tree City USA status, the Village of Hawthorn Woods has proudly met four core standards of sound urban forestry management: maintaining a tree board, having a community tree ordinance, spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry, and celebrating Arbor Day.  On March 10, 2016, Pamela O. Newton, Chief Operating Officer, and Brian Sullivan, Director of Parks & Recreation, proudly accepted the Tree City USA designation on behalf of the Village of Hawthorn Woods from Reinee Hildebrandt, Illinois State Urban Forestry Administrator from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.  

Open space and natural areas are a defining characteristic of the Village of Hawthorn Woods and its rural setting. Collectively, the Village’s open space areas, recreational facilities, and environmental features enhance quality of life and provide opportunities for interaction with nature.  This recognition demonstrates that trees, conservation, and the environment are important to our community.  Our parks and open areas are some of our greatest treasures in Hawthorn Woods, and we are committed to maintaining them for generations to come. Trees and green spaces directly correlate to greater connections with our neighbors, and allow us to build stronger ties within the Hawthorn Woods community.  The Village Board of Trustees, administrative staff, and local residents continue to highlight the ongoing achievement Hawthorn Woods has made to urban forestry, community aesthetics, and preserving environmental air quality.  

I thank you for your continued support of our Village and Board of Trustees. I look forward to seeing you around the neighborhood this spring.  

Warmest personal regards, Joe


Mayor's Message - February 2016

Dear Neighbors,

Our Hawthorn Woods Year in Review…

As we begin the first quarter of Village operations for 2016, I would like to highlight our annual year-end review. 2015 was a year of progress and accomplishments for our Village. We increased our participation in our Parks and Recreation programs, updated our Public Works and Police fleets, worked with neighboring communities to make an impact on the proposed Route 53 project, and issued a public marketing campaign that brought us to the headlines of major newspapers, talk radio, and the Governor’s office.

The Village undertook several new initiatives, including the entitlement of new housing units to bring a diverse housing stock to town that will provide a greater opportunity for empty-nest seniors, young professionals, and growing families to choose Hawthorn Woods as their home. 2015 brought a surge of economic development opportunities and newly annexed properties. Our comprehensive plan was reviewed and updated to reflect the current and future needs of our Hawthorn Woods community.

Another major undertaking completed during 2015 was the Village-wide flooding survey. Last February, our citizens were invited to complete a survey of flood-prone areas. We obtained new data and flood maps that will provide the Village with a plan of remediation and a priority list of projects for future funding.

We continue to demonstrate accountability through our transparency efforts. The Village hosted a Town Hall Meeting this past August, and we continue to keep in touch with you through our weekly e-blasts, quarterly newsletters, and through our Facebook page. If you have not done so already, join the trend and “like” the Village of Hawthorn Woods on Facebook. We added a transparency portal to the Village website, and created a new resident welcome packet. Additionally, the Village was successful in issuing frequent press releases, hosting meet-and-greet opportunities with elected officials, and holding monthly Board Meetings to keep citizens active in community dialogue. I am looking forward to seeing some of you at our next Java with Joe event being held on Saturday, April 23rd from 9:00am to Noon at the Hawthorn Woods Country Club.

I am proud to report that Village received an unprecedented number of municipal recognitions in 2015, leading the state in many categories, including public safety. We also received National recognition for our Leadership in Re-Inventing Municipal Government.
Perhaps the greatest ongoing achievement, and a key component to our success, is the synergy between the elected officials, Village staff, our residents, and the business community of Hawthorn Woods. With Excellence as a benchmark in our everyday work plan, Hawthorn Woods continues to lead in excellence in public governance, public management, and public accountability.

Please visit us online at www.vhw.org to read the complete 2015 Year in Review report. I look forward to continuing on the path of progress in 2016.

Warmest Personal Regards, Joe


Mayor's Message - December 2015

Dear Neighbors,

We welcome the New Year 2016 with wishes of health and prosperity to you and your families.

I wanted to catch you up on some year-end business that was conducted by your Village Board regarding the newest information on the Route 53 issue. Our Village Board and staff continue to stay actively engaged in the process of the proposed Route 53 extension project. At the November Board meeting, our Trustees listened to public comments, took into consideration all of your input over the past several months, and voted to send a message to the Illinois Tollway Authority, IDOT, and Governor Rauner that the extension of Route 53 through Hawthorn Woods would be devastating to the municipality, the environment, and the people and businesses in its alignment. I want to thank everyone who took time to come to the meeting. Our Village Barn was packed with many of our residents who voiced concerns with the Blue Ribbon Advisory Council’s (BRAC) report, the alignment of the road, environmental impacts, and funding of this road that would negatively impact our schools and emergency services.

The resolution, which was passed unanimously, highlights:
  • A lack of consensus among stakeholders. Only 16% of the Lake County population supported the Route 53 extension in the last advisory referendum, which did not identify the road as a freeway or tollway.
  • A flawed process where state statues have been violated with Open Meetings Act violations and wrongful composition of the BRAC omitting all corridor communities.
  • A promise to construct a 45 mph boulevard with two lanes with an estimated $2.6 billion price tag, while the state of Illinois is in financial crisis and unable to pay existing expenses.
  • A controversial funding plan that would take future property tax revenues from new commercial development away from schools, police, libraries, fire districts and other critical emergency services.
  • An elevated road on high piers that would create a bridge over several communities in Lake County, including Hawthorn Woods, creating salt, noise and light pollution destroying the quality of life in Lake County and polluting drinking wells of adjacent homeowners.
  • More traffic congestion that would funnel onto already congested roads to avoid additional tolls priced at 20 cents per mile, and congestion pricing at an even higher rate.
  • The extension would impact the very high quality ADID Indian Creek Wetland Complex, a 130-acre conservation area with documented sensitive flora and fauna and high functional value that qualifies this wetland as a High Quality Aquatic Resource (HQAR) based on the floristic quality inventory along with Sandhill Cranes, Great Blue Herons and the Great egret surveyed in 2015. (ADID Site 143).

The next step for the Tollway is an Environmental Impact Study. We object to yet another multi-million dollar study, as the last one proved the extension of Route 53 should not proceed in its current alignment through the Indian Creek Marsh wetlands. In fact, the Tollway’s own study suggests that this sensitive area in Hawthorn Woods should be avoided completely.

You can view the resolution passed by our Board of Trustees and keep informed on the progression of this project by visiting our website at www.vhw.org/route53. We will continue to stay engaged in the process and will take lawful steps necessary to prevent any extension of Route 53 through the corporate limits of our municipality. The Village of Long Grove has enacted a similar resolution to protect our area of the corridor. I urge you all to participate in the conversation and stay engaged as this road, as planned, would have permanent effects to the quiet, rural, and tranquil character of our community.

This proposed project is complex, and after almost 2 years of our task force working on the issue I have found that the details are critical to our position. There is no doubt we have a traffic congestion issue in southern Lake County, but I believe this proposed project will not address the underlying issue – our underdeveloped local roads. In fact, studies show it may worsen the congestion as it will pave a path for more dense development to the north of us, and bring that development much faster than current local roads can handle. It is a nuance that requires a broader look at the entire picture, and includes the question of why we all chose to live in this beautiful area.

While many are claiming a consensus of support for the project, we will continue to challenge the process going back to the Blue Ribbon Advisory Council, which began the latest iteration of the project and did not include one single municipality that lies in the actual path of the proposed road. Not only was this unfair to us and the other four municipalities, but it is not in compliance with State laws.

Your Board of Trustees will continue to respectfully engage with the appropriate authorities with the mission to protect our lifestyle for generations to come. Thank you for your continued support.

Warmest personal regards, Joe


Mayor's Message - August 2015

Dear Neighbors,

Over the past 18 months I have represented our Board of Trustees at local committee meetings researching the feasibility of a proposed Route 53 highway extension. While historically this was being considered as a State project, the Illinois Tollway Authority, who has authorized the recent meetings and discussions, is studying the current version. 

Last summer we created a task force consisting of Village staff, professional consultants, and Village Board members in order to best comprehend the local Route 53 feasibility process and represent the Village’s interests in discussions. As the committee meetings wrap up, a recommendation is to be made from the committees directly to the Illinois Tollway Authority to either proceed with the process or abandon the effort. Officially the Village has not taken a position on the road, but has carefully vetted the potential impacts such a road would have on Hawthorn Woods from land use perspective, environmental impacts, financial cost, and alignment (height of the tollway).

I feel it is critical for residents to understand precisely how this feasibility process has developed, what impacts are expected should the road project proceed, and then have our Board of Trustees hear your thoughts directly. We will be holding a Town Hall meeting specifically to present our findings on Route 53 – that is the sole purpose of this meeting and I want to personally urge to you attend.

Many of you have discussed Route 53 with me personally at Village events, via email, and around the neighborhood. As I have communicated with you personally, this project has legs, and it is critical for all residents to have the most current information and facts. 

The meeting will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, August 17th at St. Matthew Lutheran Church & School, located at 24500 N. Old McHenry Road in Hawthorn Woods.

I thank you for your continued support and trust you have placed in your Board.

Warmest personal regards, Joe


Mayor's Message - June 2015

Dear Residents,

The proposed Illinois Tollway Route 53 extension into Lake County has been a long discussed transportation route, with controversial environmental impacts and budgetary shortfalls delaying its construction over the last two decades. Recently you may have read or heard news regarding the proposed Illinois Tollway Rt. 53 extension project and our Village position on the plan. I wanted to clearly present the Village’s position to you directly as to not have misinformation disseminated amongst the media. 

In the fall of 2011, the Illinois Tollway created the Illinois Route 53/120 Blue Ribbon Advisory Council to assist in the visioning of the Illinois Route 53/120 project in Lake County. More commonly known as the BRAC, this council completed its work in 2012, recommending to the Tollway to continue studying the proposed road. You can download the full official BRAC Report by visiting the Illinois Route 53/120 Blue Ribbon Advisory Council page on the Illinois Tollway’s website. In response to the report, the Tollway convened a special Finance Committee to study funding/financing feasibility of the project and a special Land Use Committee to study potential land use controls in what is defined as the Rt. 53 Corridor. The work of both committees is entirely based on the BRAC report recommendations. Our Village lies almost entirely within this corridor. 

I represent our Board of Trustees on the Village’s behalf on both of the special committees that have been meeting over the last year. Just this past March the Special Finance Committee recommended funding and financing options to the Tollway Authority, which includes a roughly $100 million Phase 1 Study as the next step. The Land Use Committee continues their work plan to have a recommendation to the Tollway Authority sometime this summer. While the Village of Hawthorn Woods has been a supporter of regional transportation route improvements, the Tollway administration has inherited a Blue Ribbon Advisory Council’s report (the BRAC Report) that we believe is flawed for many reasons and has led to the lack of consensus on the project. Specifically, I was present at the finance committee for the Tollway extension and voted against the financing plan that would take future revenues away from the Village and other taxing bodies to pay for the road. Several other communities within the corridor did not vote in the affirmative to support the plan. There are many unknowns regarding the proposal, and the Village has several specific concerns at
this time, primarily:
  • Alignment - Current plans do not reflect the previously agreed upon alignment through Hawthorn Woods. Where the FAP 342 signs are currently located in Hawthorn Woods today is not the route that BRAC is now recommending. The new alignment reverts back to the original path (from the 1960’s) through the Indian Creek Wetland Complex, which would necessitate an elevated road over the marsh and Gilmer Road, in essence a bridge across our community. For many reasons this elevated Tollway concerns your Village officials, including control of truck noise, light emissions, environmental salt run-off, degradation of ADID high quality habitat for flora and fauna, and the dissection of our Village by a bridge on pylons that will impact much of our community. The BRAC report needs to be amended to reflect the correct alignment of the roadway around, not through, the wetlands before a flawed public record is propagated. The alignment as referenced in the BRAC report is not the preferred alignment as suggested by years of debate from the federal, state and local agencies. We need to incorporate the previous recommendations from the Illinois Department of Transportation, The Unites States Environmental Protection Agency, Region V, the Lake County Stormwater Commission, Illinois Department of Conservation, the Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Federal Highway Administration, and the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority before another dollar is spent on this effort. An elevated road through Hawthorn Woods would profoundly change our community forever.
  • Consensus – While some stakeholders are claiming a consensus on moving forward with the project, I want you to know there is not a consensus to proceed among all of the communities in the corridor of the proposed Route 53 project. Hawthorn Woods was not an invited member of the BRAC planning group. In fact, of the very few municipalities that were represented on the BRAC, only one lies in the actual corridor of the proposed road. We believe it makes sound business sense to speak directly with the communities in the actual corridor of the Tollway before millions of your tax dollars are spent on additional studies. 
  • Disparate Costs – For communities that lie in the corridor, the financing plan calls for 25-50% of future commercial property taxes to be used to fund the road. Any new commercial development in our Village and associated property tax revenues would be used to help finance the road. Communities outside of the corridor would not have to contribute any property taxes. 
  • Local Control – While not completed, the Land Use plan contemplates the loss of local development control within our Village. The Tollway would seek to preserve 750 acres of open land within the corridor, therefore prescribing what our Village and private property owners can do on undeveloped land. This would bind future village boards, residents, and property owners forever – something your current board does not contemplate casually.

The Village of Hawthorn Woods believes that gathering the communities that lie in the path of the proposed Tollway for a conversation is imperative to the corridor consensus that is critical to the Route 53 success. Those who are directly impacted by the physical location of the extension of Rt. 53 through their community need a place at the table in order to reach true consensus and avoid a rise in vocal opposition.

With State projects and initiatives on hold during budget discussions until the fiscal health of the State is restored, we believe this new initiative should be cautiously suspended until the State can be better prepared to face the impact of a new $100 million study expenditure with uncertain results. While our residents are burdened with the state’s financial debt, this is not the year to support a new multi-billion dollar spending project with massive funding shortfalls.

The Village has made specific requests of the Tollway Authority and directly to Governor Rauner both in written form and in person. You can read our letter to the Tollway and the Governor by visiting our website at www.vhw.org. As your Mayor and Village Board, we pledge to keep you informed so that you can express your concerns or opinions directly to the Tollway Board. We anticipate that the Tollway Board members will consider this vote to
proceed with the Route 53 Phase 1 Engineering Plan, costing over $100 million dollars, sometime this summer. While many of our residents don’t believe this can ever happen with the funding deficits, as your Mayor I need to inform you that discussions are quietly proceeding in this direction. Your Village Board will continue to attend every public meeting on this issue and keep you updated on the Route 53 discussions that directly impact the Village of Hawthorn Woods. We will also continue to pursue strategies to better position our Village as the process continues.

With regards,

Joseph Mancino, Mayor
And the Hawthorn Woods Village Board of Trustees


Mayor's Message - February 2015

Dear Neighbor,

2015 has us off to a busy and productive start to a great year.

The Village has been continuously ensuring that snowplow operations are accomplished in a safe and effective manner during this winter season. I have received dozens of compliments from residents who are pleased with a job well done by our snow and ice removal operations team; I couldn't agree more. This winter, the Public Works Department has been out on 24 events, which includes not only plowing, but also salting and de-icing. Salt and liquid de-icers are used in combination to clear village owned streets. We have used 420 tons of salt so far this year, and have over 450 tons still remaining in stock. Our Public Works staff has done an outstanding job ensuring the safety of our roads which is made up of over 60 center-lane miles, and approximately 115 cul de sacs. To report hazardous road conditions such as ice, over two inches of snow accumulation, or drift-over roads, please visit our website (www.vhw.org).

While the Village acts with great care, accidental damage to lawns, parkways, and mailboxes may occur. When a properly installed and secured mailbox is damaged during Village snow plow operations, the mailbox will be repaired or replaced with a standard issued mailbox as soon as possible. You may use the Report a Concern function during any hour of the day to send a message directly to our Public Works department. You can also call (847) 540-5227 between the hours of 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

This winter, the Village has been hard at work diversifying our housing stock and ensuring that Hawthorn Woods continues to offer a place to call home for our young professionals and families as well as our senior residents who may want to downsize but stay in town. During the Comprehensive Plan process, one goal residents asked us to address is to provide housing for our younger families and aging population, while maintaining the upscale character of our community.

The Pulte development, known as Hawthorn Hills, is designed modeling the Beverly Hills subdivision and is under construction at the corner of Midlothian and Gilmer Roads. Along with upcoming intersection widening at the corner by the Lake County Department of Transportation, the Village will see the addition of three new parks in this development as well as four different neighborhood designs. A retail component will be developed in the future at the corner, ensuring a walkable community and new Village amenities. In addition, we are working on the Stonebridge and Stonewood Glen subdivisions, planning an open space cluster design with 60% of the land undeveloped, as well as one-acre home estates on Old McHenry Road. It is a busy winter in the Village, and I personally invite you to stop by and say hello at our Java with Joe event scheduled next month. Be sure to sign up for our weekly communications so we stay connected on a regular basis.

Our Parks and Recreation Department has prepared a fun-filled day for our second annual “Winter Carnival” which is taking place on Saturday, February 21st from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. at Community Park. This free event will offer horse drawn wagon rides, snow shoeing, dog sled demonstrations, music, games and more. It will be a great day to break out from being indoors and enjoy some winter fun. Also, mark your calendars for the dog friendly event, “Bark in the Park”, coming up on Saturday, April 25th. These are great times that bring out the best in our community. It is a privilege serving as your Mayor. I thank you for your continued trust and support of our Board of Trustees. I look forward to seeing you in the neighborhood soon.

Warmest personal regards, Joe


Mayor's Message - September 2014

Dear Friends,

It has been a great summer in the Village of Hawthorn Woods. I have enjoyed every moment of the great weather, good friends, and fun activities in our beautiful community.

August is the time our department heads are deep into budget analysis for next year. Consistent with this administration’s policies, staff is working from a conservative revenue forecast and managed expenditure plan. The past 5 years of zero-based budgeting has strengthened us as a village and allows us reinvest in our assets. This summer we began receiving revenue from our tax sharing agreement from the Mariano’s grocery store. We deliberately did not budget for this revenue, therefore making 2014 another healthy year for our reserve fund. To learn about the details on our plans for 2015, join us on September 29th as we hold a joint Finance/Committee of the Whole budget review meeting at 5:30 p.m. at the Village Barn (2 Lagoon Dr.).

Development activity continues in Hawthorn Woods. The Pulte Corporation is finalizing its process with the Village, hoping to break ground this year on an exciting new housing project on the corner of Gilmer and Midlothian Roads. This development includes a retail/commercial component at the intersection. High interest remains in new housing due to our desirable location and available land.

Registration is still open for late summer and fall activities in our Parks and Recreation department. You can find details by visiting our website and going to the Parks and Recreation section. If you have not been to a Friday night Concert in the Park this year, come on out as we have expanded the season until September 19th. Our concert series has become one of the most popular weekly community events in the area. Check our website for more upcoming events including our annual Family Fall Fun Fest.

Stay up to date on important Village news and events by going to our website at vhw.org and signing up for our e-blasts and newsletter. You can also find our official Facebook page online and like us for news and social events.

August is also the time of year for our children to go back to school. This year is quite different in our household from the years of the clatter, school supplies, and backpacks. Our youngest is off to college and our newly degreed oldest is leaving home to start her dream job. As we prepare for our proverbial empty nest I am thankful to have raised both of our children in Hawthorn Woods. It is no doubt their vibrancy is a reflection of where they have grown and the people in their lives from where they call home.

I thank you for your continued support and trust of our Board of Trustees. See you in the neighborhood soon.

Warmest personal regards, Joe


Mayor's Message - June 2014

Dear Friends,

Today’s economic and political atmospheres create new challenges for people, businesses, and organizations. The Village of Hawthorn Woods faces these new challenges on a daily basis with a focus towards sustainability. 

It is no surprise the problems of our State are front and center lately, especially during an election year. The press notes that we are collectively carrying the burden of years of poor planning, inefficient operations, and weak leadership at the State level. The media is well versed on reporting the myriad of problems in Illinois and the politicians are pretty good at deriding one another over who is to blame. It is a circle that is repeated about every four years. I urge you to get informed and take part in the upcoming election this November. 

We are fortunate in our Village to have a team of public servants whose desire is to do just that – serve the public. Since 2009 our Board and Staff have worked diligently as a team to face the challenges without a scant trace of a personal or political agenda. This approach leads to innovative and measurable results, as witnessed by the healthy financial and operational state of our Village. We are in good shape, and we strive to do better. 

Recent initiatives in the Village look to long-term sustainability. We have prepared a study on the health and viability of our roads, and are working on responsible financing options for a new road maintenance program. We are also preparing a village-wide study of our storm water drainage/swale system in order to be prepared for the maintenance and upgrading that is necessary. Sustainability is our key goal in these projects followed by realistic financing and timing goals. Not very flashy initiatives, but they are a cornerstone in the value of our properties, homes, and a measure of the quality of life in our local community. 

Interest in developing property in our Village remains very active as the market slowly recovers. At the Board meeting in May, the Board voted unanimously to give preliminary approval for Pulte Homes to develop roughly 240 homes at the intersection of Gilmer and Midlothian Roads. The project also includes approximately 7 acres of commercial/retail at the very corner of the property. The project now moves towards the final planning stages, including final approval from our Board. Other vacant properties in the Village are also being reviewed by new developers, with fresh eyes and fresh financing. I have not seen more activity in my five years in office
than I have seen in the last 6 months. The Village is poised and ready for new growth.

With summer in full swing, I urge you to take advantage of all the Village has to offer. Check out our website and Facebook page for summer events including our weekly Farmers Markets and Concerts in the Park. This year’s entire concert schedule is made possible with a generous sponsorship from Kemper Sports, who locally operates the Hawthorn Woods Country Club. Kudos to Kemper for their involvement in our community. It is not too late to sign up for some of our Recreation Department’s classes so check out what is offered on our website. Our Aquatic Center is open daily with options for seasonal as well as daily admission passes. It is a great time to live, work, and play in Hawthorn Woods. 

I thank you for your continued support and trust of our Board. It is an honor and a privilege to serve as your Mayor. I look forward to seeing you in the neighborhood. 

Warmest Personal Regards, Joe


Mayor's Message - April 15, 2014

Dear Friends,

The Village continues to thrive as we prepare to enter into the summer months. After the harsh winter our Public Works department is busy making preparations for all of our exciting summer activities at all of our parks and the Aquatic Center. The Parks and Recreation Department is also in full gear prepping for another fun summer in Hawthorn Woods with our local Farmer’s Market, Summer Concerts, and Movies in the Park. All the activity means the Village is also hiring for our annual seasonal help so check out Employment Opportunities on our website – you can be part of Team Hawthorn Woods this summer.

In March, I attended the Illinois Tollway Land Use Committee’s inaugural meeting. I sit on this committee with many other Mayors, stakeholders and elected officials. This committee was formed in conjunction with a recommendation from the Rt. 53 Blue Ribbon Advisory Committee (BRAC) to study the Rt. 53/120 Corridor. Specifically our committee is directed to help develop a Corridor Land Use Plan that “integrates land use, transportation, economic development, and open space”. This process will be managed by the professionals at CMAP, and include Lake County, all relevant municipalities, as well as economic and environmental partners. It is quite and undertaking and the plan covers the areas within a two-mile buffer of the Corridor. The committee will be making a recommendation to the full Illinois Tollway Board in 2015. You can learn about this specific plan and more by visiting http://www.illinoistollway.com/construction-and-planning/community-outreach and clicking on the Rt. 53/120 button. 

In an effort to provide additional communications to our residents, the Village now has its own Facebook page. It will be a fun source for news in the Village, including photos and special features. Like us on Facebook, and ask your friends to like us too. All are welcome in the Village of Hawthorn Woods.

In May of this year I will have served 5 years as your Mayor. I am amazed at how quickly time has flown for me while in office, and I am also amazed at the people that I serve with. It is not often that these volunteer residents get thanks - it’s just the nature of the office. I would like to personally thank Trustee Neil Morgan for his tenaciousness and commitment to everything he does; Trustee Kelly Corrigan for her toughness, smarts, and good wit; Trustee Mike David for his inquisitiveness, generosity and killer guitar riffs; Trustee Steve Reiss for his knowledge, guidance and fairness; Trustee Pete Ponzio for his incredible financial and artistic writing skills, and for his servant’s spirit; and Trustee Dominick DiMaggio for his problem solving skills, his
ability to make anyone laugh, and for his friendship.

These six people are dedicated to serving the Village selflessly. They are humble professionals who work on tasks, attend meetings, and make tough decisions all on our behalf. I encourage you to get to know them, and if you see them around town, give them a thank you as well, they have all earned my respect.

I look forward to seeing you in the neighborhood.

Warmest Personal Regards, Joe


Mayor's Message - April 1, 2014

Dear Neighbors,

This is sure to be an exciting summer with such great happenings planned right here in our hometown. Our Aquatic Center will be opening on May 24th. We have a new climbing feature to unveil, and have added swim lessons on Saturday mornings. Our great parks will be filled with many fun days and nights with our concert series, movies in the parks, and Farmers Market. The Village is now on Facebook, so please like us to stay in touch. I look forward to seeing you around town at these great community events. (www.vhw.org)

Kind Regards, Mayor Joseph Mancino

Mayor's Message - March 2014

Dear Neighbors,

Holding office and serving in the Village of Hawthorn Woods is one of the most fulfilling endeavors of my life. I am grateful for all that I have learned and experienced, and look forward to more.

The Village of Hawthorn Woods continues to be on solid financial footing. Our year wrapped up in December under budget, and with a healthy sweep of dollars into our reserves. Our annual zero based budgeting techniques are proving to be very successful in the management of our finances and programs. In November, the Board approved the new 2014 annual budget. As in previous years our budget follows a conservative approach to not only expenditures but also expected revenues. We are fortunate to have such a capable and dedicated staff working on our financial behalf.

New development activity in the Village has staff very busy in the new year. In February the Pulte Home Corporation presented a plan for property on the NW corner of Gilmer and Midlothian Roads. The development concept includes new housing, open space, new parklands as well as a small retail portion on the corner frontage of the property. The project is being reviewed by our Planning Building and Zoning Commission, and should come before the board in the next month or so. Check our website for updates on this exciting development.

In September of 2013 the Village began the process of updating our Comprehensive Plan. We were fortunate in receiving a grant from CMAP in the amount of $90,000 to assist us in writing the plan – kudos to staff in winning this grant. With the grant we were able to hire Houseal Lavigne & Associates, a dynamic planning group who is assisting us in preparing the plan. We have held several public meetings as well as workshops where residents, elected officials, & staff all took part in interactive presentations & idea generation. We seek to wrap up the process in the first part of the year. Check our website for upcoming meetings and interactive details of the plan.

Check out our Parks and Rec section on our website for some great community events coming to our Village. On February 22nd we held our first ever Winter Carnival. We were proud to host Hawthorn Woods families who came out to Community Park for this event and enjoyed refreshments, entertainment, music, ice sculpture demonstration, snowman contest, winter games, sledding, old fashioned wagon rides and culminated with an amazing laser light show.

This month we also enjoyed the grand opening of Mariano’s Grocery on the corner of Quentin Road and Rt. 22. It is a fabulous operation offering so much more than your typical grocery store. Although technically not in our Village, we will benefit with 20% of tax revenues from this store going directly to Hawthorn Woods – another reason to shop at Mariano’s.

Late last year I was asked to serve on the Illinois Tollway’s Finance committee to explore funding/financing options for the potential construction of the Rt. 53 extension from Lake Cook Road to Rt. 120. The committee has had 3 meetings to date where we discussed the history of the Rt. 53 issue, the current recommendation of the Blue Ribbon Advisory Committee, and a menu of options for funding & financing. The estimates for construction of the road are in the $3 billion dollar area as currently designed. If constructed as currently envisioned, the road would have a bonding potential of approximately $600 million dollars based on projected toll revenues.

This leaves a funding gap of approximately $2.4-$2.5 billion dollars. Our committee is tasked with vetting the various funding/financing options available and to make a recommendation to the full Tollway Board by end of 2014. You can find out more about this issue by visiting http://www.illinoistollway.com/construction-and-planning/community-outreach and clicking on the Rt. 53/Rt. 120 button.

It is an election year and I urge you to get involved in our governance. There are many important positions being contested in the County and State, including the Governor’s office. I believe our state is at a watershed moment with regards to our leadership, and never has it been more important for us to get informed, get involved, and most importantly – vote.

I thank you again for your continued support and trust of our board. If you should have any questions please feel free to reach out to me directly.

Warmest regards, Joe


Mayor's Message - September 2012


For those of you following the Lake County hearings on the rezoning of the Dimucci property on Route 12 at Old McHenry Road, I wanted to inform you that last night at the Lake County Zoning Board of Appeals meeting the commission voted unanimously in favor of the rezoning change from Residential to General Commercial.

 

In addition to the 19 pages of conditions presented at the meeting, there were three additional conditions placed on the development by motion on the floor last night by the ZBA.

 

Landscaping

  1. A landscaping berm that does not interfere with the vision triangle and meets the requirements of the transportation agencies shall be placed at the ultimate right of way line at Old McHenry Road. Said berm shall have a minimum height of 10 feet and shall be planted with a minimum of 2 plant units for every 100 feet. (A plant unit consists of overstory trees, evergreens, and lower shrubs and bushes)
  2. The existing berm currently located along the south property line shall be extended to the ultimate western right of way line of Route 12. Said berm shall be planted with a minimum of 3 plant units for every 100 feet.

Height

  1. No building shall exceed the height of 40 feet with a 15 foot allowance for architectural features.


These newly recommended conditions will be in conjunction with the tentative compromise reached by the Villages of Hawthorn Woods, North Barrington, and Lake County. This compromise includes the reduction in retail space to 450,000 square feet, with 200,000 square feet of local services and restaurants.

 

As I have personally stated to many of you, this process is not yet over. The ZBA's recommendation will now proceed to the Lake County's Planning Building and Zoning Committee on Tuesday, September 25, 2012 in their County Building at 18 North County Street, Waukegan, at 8:30 am. All residents are invited to continue their participation on this matter and voice additional concerns throughout this process before Lake County either in person or by email to your County Board representatives. The Village will continue its presence at all meetings in Waukegan and continue to work within the framework of an IGA (Intergovernmental Government Agreement) between the County, North Barrington and Hawthorn Woods. This IGA continues to be in draft form to include many of the comments and conditions voiced by the participants at these hearings. The Village will impose our insistence on a smaller scale development and perimeter buffering for all of our residents.

 

Finally, if the County Board does approve the recommendations of the ZBA to rezone, the property will remain in Estate residential zoning until or unless a developer comes forward with a final site plan. That plan will need to go through the full public process before any grading or development can occur. The applicants are seeking 5 years allowance to market the property for a developer who would build a project within the planning standards and conditions outlined throughout this process.

 

I remain sincere in my commitment to serve all residents, and I thank you for your support and trust as we continue to work on behalf of the entire Village to negate or lessen some of the impacts of the Lake County proposal.

Warmest Regards,

Joseph Mancino

Mayor, Village of Hawthorn Woods


Mayor's Message - Dimucci Conceptual Agreement


Dear Resident,


I personally wanted to reach out to you to describe the Village's position on the announced conceptual agreement between the Village of Hawthorn Woods, the Village of North Barrington and Lake County.

 

In February of this year, and without prior discussion, we all learned of the property owner's application for the rezoning of the property. The surrounding villages had not been notified in advance of this application and had not been asked for any input before the process of the application began. This exclusion from the regional planning process, along with the concern of the proposed size and scope, left the Village in a position to strongly oppose the development application before Lake County. While this property does not lie within the municipal boundaries of the Village of Hawthorn Woods, the Village hired professional expert witnesses to testify before the Lake County Planning Commissions to reject the consideration of the proposed development because of its large-scale regional impact.

 

Your Village's elected officials, professional staff and committee members worked all summer attending numerous public meetings regarding the application. Our experts spoke about major concerns raised through public outcry and pressure by our residents and surrounding neighbors. Of all the concerns raised, a common thread seemed apparent: residents were concerned about the size and scope, height of structures, allowed use, and the impact to local services and residents. With the support of our Village Board, I have consistently advocated for a regional solution that included the stakeholders in a resolution.

 

Over the last two months, the villages closest to the Route 12 parcel, Hawthorn Woods and North Barrington, sat down to meet in regional planning efforts to address the application for development before the Lake County Government. We stripped away the threats of lawsuits against one another and had direct, professional dialogue regarding our opposition to the lack of municipal involvement. As a result of those initial discussions, the Villages were invited to meet with the planning staff at Lake County and discuss the vision of the Villages as it was depicted in the 2002 IGA that was adopted a decade ago.

After several frank discussions at the planning table, and a word-by-word struggle with the document, it is my belief that the Village of Hawthorn Woods, along with its officials and professional consultants, have designed a conceptual plan for the unincorporated parcel that meets the high-end and low-impact character of our community.

 

The conceptual agreement we reached with North Barrington and Lake County includes the following provisions:

  • The size of any proposed development has been reduced from 800,000 square feet of general commercial to 450,000 square feet of retail with an allowance of an additional 200,000 to be used for restaurants, entertainment, local commercial service, and other neighborhood-oriented uses or general office use.
  • Structures within 300 feet of Old McHenry Road will be limited to 35 feet in height, with an additional 15 feet allowed for architectural features.
  • A myriad of uses will be prohibited, including gas stations. The prohibited uses were incorporated from our 2002 agreement.
  • Lighting will be limited to 0.75 foot candle along Route 12, and 0.25 foot candle along Old McHenry Road, with all lighting meeting Dark Sky criteria.
  • Additional screening/buffering with berms and landscaping along frontage abutting Old McHenry Road, and all perimeter properties including unincorporated Lake County residential areas.
  • Separate structures, rather than an indoor mall, with individual external entrances will be designed. Other amenities promoting open-air circulation of pedestrians and community plazas will be featured.
  • Concurrent review and approval responsibility by the Storm Water Management Commission will be implemented for secondary runoff oversight.
  • Performance bond guarantees for landscaping and berming equaling 130% of cost will be mandated.
  • Tax Revenue sharing equaling 60% to Lake County and 40% to the Villages of Hawthorn Woods and North Barrington will help each Village manage the impact of development.

These are just some of the conditions that will be imposed on the property should the application be recommended by the Lake County ZBA to the Lake County Board for consideration. Other specific details will be presented at the upcoming Lake County ZBA hearings, where the public will be able to provide input in the continuing rezoning process.

 

The proposed compromises have not come easily. And while no one walked away with everything they desired, we arrived at these with the support of our Board and through the consultation and advice from our hired legal experts, professional consultants and staff. Please understand that past agreements have not resolved this issue. Instead, they have brought tens of thousands of dollars in collective litigation, acrimony amongst the villages, the county, the property owner and various developers that have spilled over into other interests, village-wide. On the most recent path, we can only expect more of the same results. Unless there is an agreement between all affected governments, we should expect years of litigation and millions of tax dollars spent in the process from all the respective agencies.

 

I personally have considered the financial risks of years of litigation on a parcel that is not in our Village versus negotiation and arbitration to such a proposed three-party Intergovernmental Agreement. The risks involved to the Village in some of those alternatives are serious and go well beyond impacts to this one parcel of land. After consultation with our legal counsel and professional experts, I believe this to be the best opportunity for us to actually have a seat at the table on the development of a property that lies beyond our municipal control, and the best opportunity for us to influence the outcome of that development that is not in our town.

 

All residents are invited to continue their participation in this matter and voice additional concerns throughout this process before the Lake County Zoning Board of Appeals. The Village's experts will be present next week for the cross examination of the County's presentation and the Village will present its requests for the reduction of size, height, scope, and massing on the site and the increase in open space and impact fee distribution to include both of the Villages nearby this parcel. While your voices will continue to be heard, the Village will also continue its presence and insistence on a smaller scale development on the perimeter of our town. We have come a long way in two months toward regional inclusion, and we could not have been at the planning table without all of you and your collective voices.

 

We asked the county to stop the process and include our voices of concern regarding the development. You helped us achieve that delay, got us to the table, and allowed us to negotiate your concerns into an enforceable document that must be implemented by all surrounding government jurisdictions.

 

I remain sincere in my commitment to serve all residents, and I thank you for your continued support and trust. I look forward to voicing our concerns and remedies publicly during this process as the hearings resume on September 6th, where the Village will present its requests to Lake County. However, I wanted you to hear them from me first. Every resident will continue to be heard at the public hearing before the Lake County ZBA, and all are welcome to add additional concerns to the Village's testimony.

 

Warmest regards,

Joseph Mancino

Mayor, Village of Hawthorn Woods


Mayor's Message - RPC Vote Outcome

Last night, July 11, at the Lake County Regional Plan Commission meeting, the commission voted in our favor and recommended a denial of the proposed zoning change on the property at Route 12 and Old McHenry Road, commonly known as the Dimucci property, to the Lake County Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA).

 

During the meeting the commissioners called on several experts in the audience including representatives from the Village of Hawthorn Woods. The commissioners asked questions based on the massive input by residents and Village representatives. After deliberation by the commission, a motion was made to approve the application as presented and recommend it to the Lake County ZBA. The final vote of the commission was 5 nays and 2 yeas, with one commissioner abstaining. The recommendation against the rezoning request will now proceed to the next hearing board next week.

 

I would like to thank everyone that was involved in the process of presenting our views on this issue to the commission - the Village's voice, your voice, was heard loud and clear. I would like to thank our Village staff members who have dedicated countless hours of research, and that of North Barrington for working together with Hawthorn Woods. I would like to thank our own Village Board, for their support, trust, and involvement during this initial process. We also express our gratitude for so many Mayors and Village Presidents from our surrounding towns who came out to testify on our behalf and testified before the Lake County Regional Plan Commission to respect our local planning process, municipal authority, and intergovernmental agreements that govern this site.

 

I would also like to thank each and every resident who invested time in order to become informed and involved in the process. Your voice was the clearest of all to this commission.

 

As was made clear by the RPC Chairman last night, this vote does not stop the process of the application. The chairman stated, "If voted down, that does not mean we stopped the process. It is going all the way to the County Board."

 

The application will now be heard by the Lake County Zoning Board of Appeals on July 18, 2012 at 5 p.m. at Concorde Banquets, 20922 N. Rand Road in Kildeer. You can learn more about this upcoming meeting here. This meeting will be critical in the process, and I encourage every resident to attend the meeting and offer any comments you may have on the proposal and process.

 

The Village's position on this issue remains the same. The Village is not anti-development, but will continue to press for a clear voice and presence in any development issue in and around our community, especially one that would bring such impact to our Village. What is known about this proposal is that the potential size and scope of the project do not fit with the vision and character of our community. What is not known about this proposal remains most troubling to the majority of residents residing in the municipalities surrounding this land on Route 12 and Old McHenry Road. This proposal asks for a Planned Unit Development and Special Use Permit without a plan, without a declared use.

 

The Village of Hawthorn Woods will continue to oppose this proposal as presented, challenging this process legislatively, procedurally and legally, while strongly advocating for a true regional solution involving all stakeholders in the process. Your Village staff, elected officials and professional consultants are prepared for the next step in the process. We will be well represented at next weeks meeting of the Lake County Zoning Board of Appeals. Your presence and involvement will again clarify our voice.

 

I thank you again for your support, trust, and for the privilege to serve as your Mayor.

 

Warmest regards,

Joseph Mancino

Mayor, Village of Hawthorn Woods


Mayor's Message - July 2012

Dear Residents,

What a great time to live and to serve in the Village of Hawthorn Woods. The longer I serve in office, the greater my appreciation for our community.

 

Our recent annual 4th of July celebration was just one example of community spirit made possible by hours of volunteer work, staff planning and support from our partners. Funding for our event began with our annual Village Golf Outing fundraiser held in May of this year. Proceeds from this fundraiser went directly to cover our community event, with terrific support from friends and vendors of the Village. The 4th of July event itself had some 40 volunteers who gave up their personal family time to help make the event possible. You may have encountered these folks, who are better known as CERT - Community Emergency Response Team. Along with our staff, our police officers and public works employees, please join me in thanking these individuals for their efforts and community spirit.

 

Our community activities will continue throughout the summer and early fall. Our Friday night Concerts in the Park series includes a Farmers Market and a new, growing collectible car show at Community Park. Check our website for details about these and all of our Village summer events.

 

Continuing our transformation of Village operations, I am excited to report on recently hired team members on our staff:

 

Erika Frable, Director of Public Works - Erika is a civil engineer and an excellent administrator. Her talents are obvious and paying off in the short term, with bigger payoffs in the long term operation of our village. Erika is the only engineer on our full-time staff. Her degree and experience bring added value to many of our departments and operations. Erika fills a vacancy created by the voluntary departure of the previous director of Public Works.

 

Matt Bartlett, Superintendent of Public Works & Parks - Matt joins us with 22 years of experience in Public Works and operations from the Village of Vernon Hills. A great communicator with critical skills in the industry, Matt will supervise and innovate our field teams in the Public Works Department including roads, village asset management and park maintenance. His employment helps rebuild our Public Works Department following workforce reductions made in 2008.

 

Karen Baker, Executive Administrative Assistant - Karen has been part of our team for several months now, and joined us with years of administrative experience from the Village of Round Lake. You may recall the budget cut-backs of 2008 that unfortunately claimed many job positions in the Village. Karen fills one of those positions, and in her capacity has become an integral part of our team and operations. Department heads now have additional support for the multiple roles and tasks they perform in the Village. Karen fills a vacancy created by the voluntary departure of the former executive administrative assistant.

 

Seasonal part-time help has been hired for the summer to assist in road, property and park maintenance. This strategy helps reduce overtime and increase our staffing level with part-time labor during the summer months when it is most needed to provide essential core services to the community.

 

We continue to build our team in the Village following your Board's original vision of excellence and the transformation of our operations to reflect a modern small business. I am thrilled at the progress in this respect, I look forward to the future benefits, and I am eager to continue down this path.

 

As Mayor I work on many issues with varying timelines. As an update to some important issues:

  • This month, our Finance Committee completed its research and has recommended to the Village Board to place a municipal electric aggregation referendum question on the Nov. 6, 2012 ballot. This item will go before the Board for a vote at its July 16 meeting at 7 p.m. The Village decided to take a different approach to this issue, and has been monitoring early results from municipalities that have already chosen to consider electrical aggregation. In short, the Village would negotiate for electrical power from a third party supplier at reduced costs per wattage used. This cost savings would be passed on to the residential customers. The program would be an "opt out" program, where each resident would have the opportunity to simply opt out of the program. An educational and informational effort will be conducted prior to asking for resident input at the ballot box.
  • At July's Board meeting, the Board also will be considering a change to our open burning ordinance. The current ordinance allows for controlled open burning of leaves and twigs during certain times of the year. Staff has conducted research on this issue and presented findings. Our Environmental Committee has been discussing this issue for some time, and the Board will consider a change in this ordinance at our next Board meeting, scheduled for July 16 at 7 p.m. This ordinance is being considered in the spirit of a clean air action, and in response to resident concerns.
  • You may have recently noticed some grading activity on property in our Village along Midlothian Road. The contractor on this project is grading the property, preparing it for an eventual development opportunity. As part of an agreement with the village, the contractor will provide maintenance on Kruger Road. With the installation of sewer service to the Midlothian Corridor now complete, projects such as this bring development one step closer to shovel ready status.
  • You may have heard news recently regarding a new grocery store coming to the area - Mariano's Fresh Market. The chain will be opening a new grocery store at the northwest corner of Quentin Road and Route 22 in Lake Zurich. What you may not have heard is that the Village of Hawthorn Woods will be receiving 20 percent of the sales tax revenue generated from this exciting new venue. After resolving interpretations of several intergovernmental agreements with neighboring villages regarding this property, Hawthorn Woods entered into a multi-jurisdictional sales tax revenue sharing agreement with Kildeer and Lake Zurich. It is a landmark agreement, the first of its kind for Hawthorn Woods, locking in hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue in perpetuity for our Village.
  • The recent rezoning application on the Route 12 and Old McHenry Road property before the Lake County Regional Plan Commission is still pending a vote from the commission. Our Village continues efforts in opposition of the rezoning as currently presented in Lake County. The Village is not anti-development, and I will continue to strongly advocate for a solution that best serves the interests of all stakeholders in the process. I believe such a solution would be better achieved prior to any further action by Lake County on this application. We continue to actively monitor and take part in the process to date.

 

If you should have any questions or comments, please feel free to drop me a note directly. I thank you for your continued support, and for the privilege to serve as your Mayor.

 

Warmest personal regards,

Joseph Mancino

Mayor, Village of Hawthorn Woods


Dimucci Property Update - June 2012

Dear Residents,

This Thursday, June 7, the Lake County Regional Plan Commission (RPC) will hold its first of three public meetings to consider and review the application by the Dimucci family to rezone property generally located at Rt. 12 and Old McHenry Road. The meeting will be held from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Concorde Banquets, 20922 N. Rand Road in Kildeer.

The application is a request for rezoning the property from the current residential Estate Zoning to General Commercial zoning with a planned unit development that would allow up to 800,000 square feet of development on 53 acres of the property. The RPC will evaluate this application for consistency with Lake County’s Comprehensive Plan.

According to a notice from the Lake County planning department, the June 7 meeting will include a presentation from “the developer” – which I assume to actually be the property owner because there is no development contemplated at this time – and the Lake County Planning Building and Development Department. These presentations will be followed by public comment.

The notice indicated two additional public meetings of the RPC scheduled for June 20 and June 25 at the same location and time as the first public meeting this Thursday. The notice also stated the June 20 meeting will focus primarily on public comment, while at the June 25 meeting the RPC will discuss and deliberate the application.

The Village of Hawthorn Woods will be well represented at all of these meetings by elected officials, staff and professional consultants. Our representatives will offer comments and testimony relating to Lake County’s process and the actual application being considered. I anticipate the Village of North Barrington will also be well prepared to offer comments and testimony to the RPC. If time is short, we will be prepared to deliver our comments at the next RPC meeting.

Just as with the last RPC meeting, I encourage all residents to attend the scheduled meeting in order to be informed and offer comments to the RPC.

As outlined at our February Village Board meeting, we will continue to oppose this application as presented. We will continue to challenge the process and this application statutorily, legislatively and legally in order to protect our rights, our municipal authority and the voices of our residents.

Thank you for your continued trust and support.

Regards,
Joseph Mancino
Mayor, Village of Hawthorn Woods


Dimucci Property Update 2


Dear Residents,


On Monday, February 6, the Lake County Regional Planning Commission held its public meeting to consider a Zoning Change, and a Conditional Use Permit for a Planned Unit Development on the property commonly known at the Dimucci property.

 

The meeting was to be held in a community room at the Ela Area Public Library. After some words from Lake County staff, the Dimucci family began to present their application and proposal. It was obvious to most in attendance that the room would not be able to hold all of the people who came to take part in the meeting. As the presentation continued, police and fire personnel had to keep a crowd of approximately 50 people from entering the room, keeping them in the hallway.

 

As a point of order, the Village of Hawthorn Woods objected to the continuation of the meeting until a larger venue could be provided, and a more convenient time be set for the meeting so that the public would have the best opportunity to attend. The Village of North Barrington also made a point of order, echoing our concerns. Furthermore, there was an objection as to the time of day this meeting was being held. After some resistance from the Commission chair, the entire commission voted to continue the meeting to a future date and location. We will update our website and inform you via e-mail as information becomes available.

 

Our strategy remains as before, to object to the process, the lack of a plan, and the disregard for local municipal authority and participation. The Village was well represented at the meeting with Village Board, staff members, and our professional consultants being present, and we will be well prepared to attend all future meetings.

 

I want to personally thank all of those who attended the meeting. The large attendance at this meeting sent a clear message to the applicant and the county. On behalf of the Village of Hawthorn Woods Board of Trustees, I encourage your continued involvement.

 

Information on this issue will be updated on the Village of Hawthorn Woods' website. Please pass this email on to your friends and neighbors. Encourage them to register their email with the Village through our website for future updates.

 

On behalf of our Board of Trustees, I thank you for your continued support.

 

Regards,

Mayor Joseph Mancino

Village of Hawthorn Woods


Dimucci Property Update

Dear Residents,

I wanted to reach out and thank all of the residents and guests who attended our Village Board meeting on Thursday evening to express their thoughts regarding the upcoming Lake County Regional Planning Commission meeting. We have received many calls, emails, and correspondence in support of the Village of Hawthorn Wood’s action.

The Lake County Regional Planning Commission (LCRPC) will be holding a public meeting on Monday, February 6, at 3 p.m. at the Ela Area Public Library. The owners of the parcel, generally located at Old McHenry Road and Rt. 12 (also known as the Dimucci Property), have made application to Lake County for a zoning change and a Conditional Use Permit for a Planned Unit Development. This application will be considered at Monday’s meeting of the LCRPC. The agenda for this meeting can be found here.

The subject of this meeting, and the action taken by the Village of Hawthorn Woods at our special call board meeting have a long history in our region. During the period of 1998-1999 Taubman Properties proposed a regional shopping center on this property. The Village of North Barrington as well as the Village of Hawthorn Woods considered this proposal. Both villages made attempts to annex this property, eventually leading to costly litigation. Meanwhile, residents of Hawthorn Woods, North Barrington, and surrounding unincorporated areas began a grass roots effort in opposition to the shopping center proposal.

Eventually, the Village of Hawthorn Woods and North Barrington settled their legal dispute. In April of 1999 the two villages agreed to an Intergovernmental Boundary Agreement outlining a harmonious plan for land use and revenue sharing. This agreement outlines a mixed use of commercial, light office, and residential use aligning with existing residents in Hawthorn Woods and the surrounding area. In the early 2000s, the Village of Hawthorn Woods secured and purchased sewer capacity from Lake Zurich and water rights to specifically serve this property in accordance with our Boundary agreement, and in anticipation of eventual annexation of the property into the Village of Hawthorn Woods.

On Thursday, January 26, 2012, the Village received a notice from Lake County regarding this zoning change/PUD application. The village received the same bulk mail notice that was sent to the residents in the area. I was stunned by the notice, and by how it was communicated by the county. The short notice given prior to the meeting of the LCRPC equally surprised our staff. Since that time, the village has been working long hours to prepare a strategy of opposition to the process and the application as submitted.

On Thursday, February 2, the Village of Hawthorn Woods held a special call meeting of the Board of Trustees. Discussions among the Board and comments from the public led to the unanimous approval of a resolution in opposition to the proposal. You can view the resolution here.

During our board meeting, the village outlined our efforts during the short time since we have been noticed of the proposals to Lake County:
  • Held a meeting of the Mayors of Hawthorn Woods, North Barrington, Hawthorn Woods staff, and legal counsel of both Villages. Discussed strategies and cost sharing.
  • Met with and retained special legal counsel to assist us in our official and statutory objections.
  • Met with and retained a professional expert in the field of civic planning to assist us and object on our behalf.
  • Met with our Village engineers to assist us in objecting to the infrastructure plan contemplated in the proposal, and to assist us in presenting our stake in water and sewer to the property.
  • Lobbying efforts begun by the Village Board to our County Board members, neighboring community elected officials, and other regional elected officials in a legislative effort objecting to the proposal.

During our board meeting we had an overwhelming support from the public in attendance. We also had public support expressed by:
  • A Legal Representative of the Village of North Barrington. North Barrington is in lockstep with our efforts. Their board will be considering the same resolution in objection passed by Hawthorn Woods.
  • Village President Kathleen Leitner of Tower Lakes gave us her public support.
  • The Chairperson of the Barrington Area Council of Governments (BACOG) gave us their support.
  • The entire Village of Hawthorn Woods Board of Trustees expressed their support.
  • The Chairperson, and several members of the Village of Hawthorn Woods Planning, Building, and Zoning committee expressed their public support.

Our staff also prepared an informational hand out sheet regarding the proposal, and how to contact elected officials and county officials to express their objections. That list is available here. I anticipate our list of supporters to grow during this process.

Village of Hawthorn Woods to not only objects to the application as submitted, but to the process by which it is being considered by the various County commissions and the County board. The applicant is specifically asking for :
  • A rezoning of the property from Estate to General Commercial (GC)
  • A conditional use permit for a Planned Unit Development.
  • An automatic extension to 5 years (usual 2 years) to the Planned Unit Development.

We are not objecting to a “mall.”  An actual plan is NOT being submitted for the property. This application, if eventually approved by the County, would provide for blind zoning on the property for the current owner, or any other owner that may purchase it in the future.

The application, if approved, would allow for up to 800,000 square feet of retail space, building heights of up to 65 feet, and millions of square feet of parking surface. In contrast, the Boundary Agreement signed in 1999 between Hawthorn Woods and North Barrington and then amended in 2002 calls for half of the retail space as a maximum, and building heights no more than 30 feet, and a mixed residential component. While the applicant supplies a “pattern book” showing possible architectural styles and uses, there are no requirements mandated by these suggested materials and styles. In general practice, a PUD status is awarded only in conjunction with a supplied plan of development. This is only part of our objection to the process.

Although a boundary agreement exists between Hawthorn Woods and North Barrington covering this property and despite our ownership of infrastructure service rights, this application and how it was submitted gives no consideration to the local municipal authorities.

On Monday, the Village of Hawthorn Woods will be well represented in objecting to the proposal at the LCRPC meeting. Your help is critical in this process. The Village fully supports grass roots efforts by our residents and those others affected in the area that desire to oppose the plan and the process. Anyone can attend the LCRPC board meeting this Monday, February 6, and address this County commission with any of your concerns. The meeting time is 3 p.m., but it will continue until 7 p.m. to allow for public comment.

The Village of Hawthorn Woods Board of Trustees will support the voice of its residents. We are committed to communicating our actions and information to the public as this issue develops. Please pass this message on to your neighbors and friends and encourage them to register on our website for timely updates.

I thank you in advance for your continued support and the trust you have placed in our Board.

Regards, Mayor Joseph Mancino


Village Board, Staff Oppose Aqua Illinois Rate Increases

In early January, I traveled with staff to an Illinois Commerce Commission meeting to formally object on behalf of the residents to the proposed Aqua Illinois water and sewer rate increases. Then, at the Village Board's January 17 meeting, the Trustees unanimously passed a resolution opposing these excessive and capricious rate increases.

Additionally, I encourage all Aqua Illinois customers in Hawthorn Woods to contact the ICC to object to these rate increases before that regulatory body takes action at the end of February.

Please know that your Village Board and staff are working on your behalf to try to effect change. Also, see below for the text of my letter to the ICC that I read into the record at a public hearing earlier this year.

Sincerely,
Mayor Joseph Mancino


Illinois Commerce Commission
527 E. Capitol Avenue
Springfield, IL 62701

Chairman Doug Scott, Commissioners Lula M. Ford, Erin M. O’Connell-Diaz, Sherman J. Elliot, and John T. Colgan.

Re:  11-0436 Aqua Illinois, Inc., Proposed general increase in water and sewer rates.

Dear Commissioners,

I am Joseph Mancino, the Mayor of the Village of Hawthorn Woods, located in southeastern Lake County, Illinois. Today, I would like to comment on Aqua Illinois’ rate increase request before the ICC and its impact on a large portion of our residents and businesses. I am representing our Village Board and the Hawthorn Woods residents that would be impacted by this overly burdensome rate increase request.

Our Village is in a unique situation relating to this proposal, as we have two types of Aqua Illinois customers in Hawthorn Woods. One type of customer purchases their water from Lake County through a bulk water rate agreement with Aqua Illinois, while the other purchases their water directly from Aqua. These water and sewer customers make up approximately 30 percent of the homes in Village, and 50 percent of our businesses.

With regards to our residents who buy water in wholesale rates through Lake County, I ask the Commission to consider the potential financial impacts of the proposal, as well as the recent crushing infrastructure costs that each resident had to bear just 18 months ago. The EPA mandated an upgrade to the County-owned system that resulted in a direct cost of more than $11,000 per home. This was not including any upgrades necessary to their own plumbing. Many residents suffered loss and endured financial hardship. In some cases it was a crushing loss, as some residents could not afford the payments for the new infrastructure and retain their home.

Aqua is proposing a rate increase to these already-burdened residents that would result in a 30 percent increase in their water costs. Aqua, Hawthorn Woods, and Lake County all recently agreed to a rate structure for these residents. Just two weeks after reaching this agreement, Aqua requested this excessive rate increase and broke its commitment to our residents.

Also, please consider that the infrastructure paid for by our residents was constructed just 18 months ago, making Aqua’s arguments of needed upgrades seem unfounded and unfair. The added unjustified burden of this proposed rate increase makes the simple delivery of potable water for these residents an ongoing and unprecedented financial strain.

With regards to our other type of Aqua customers, those who buy directly from Aqua, their rates will also be greatly affected. Residential wastewater bills would rise 45 percent, while water bills to these 400 households would rise a whopping 70 percent. This represents an increase of more than $764 per year for the average customer.

These customers also received a 35 percent increase in their bill from Aqua in 2008, and now are being asked bear the burden of this additional increase. If approved, these homeowners will endure a total increase of 113 percent in about 36 months. This is infrastructure that is nearly 7 years old, with no known improvements planned to the village.

In an agreement among Aqua, the Village, and a developer, Aqua again agreed to certain rates for these residents, and, again, Aqua has not come close to honoring those rates. Utility companies should not use deceptive practices to bait-and-switch rates.

I see a pattern with Aqua in these instances in our Village, and I ask the commission to also consider these points regarding Aqua’s filings:

  • Aqua’s proposal for a rate increase mentions a possible Village-imposed franchise charge of 3 percent of the amount billed. This village board has not considered and is not considering such an agreement with Aqua. For Aqua to propose to have this right is disingenuous at best. IF the Village should ever consider such an agreement, Aqua would surely get benefit from such an agreement, and not an entitlement to charge our residents more money.
  • The timing of Aqua’s rate increase filings came just two weeks after agreeing to a new rate agreement with the Village of Hawthorn Woods and Lake County on supply and rates for a new group of customers. In fact, Aqua notified the Village of the rate increase filing just 24 hours prior to the actual filings.

I ask the Commission to consider the rate shock that Aqua’s proposal would cause to some 624 homeowners in our Village. I ask the Commission to consider the equity and fair treatment of customers so that those costs incurred by expansion and improvement of utility services are paid by those who caused those costs and enjoy their benefits. In this case, our residents did not cause any additional infrastructure costs to justify this rate increase.

I ask the Commission to consider a significantly reduced rate increase, as well as the phasing in of ANY increases granted over a reasonable term to cushion the blow to the residents of Hawthorn Woods.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,
Joseph Mancino
Mayor of the Village of Hawthorn Woods


Welcome to Our New Website

Greetings,

Welcome to the Village of Hawthorn Woods' new website. As some of you may know, I ran for this office on a platform of open government. This new website makes the Village more transparent and more accessible to residents and other stakeholders.

Residents can now report potholes and road damage using their smart phones as well as file a Freedom of Information Request using our simple form. An improved search function allows visitors to the site to find the information they are looking for with ease. This improved communication tool also allows you to contact me, Village Board members, and Village staff using special forms.

Feel free to contact me using this form with any comments or suggestions you may have to make our new website an even better asset for our community.

Sincerely,
Mayor Joseph Mancino


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