Montgomery County

Palatine board tables proposal to rezone proposed town hall site

After roughly two hours of public comment, the Palatine Town Board voted Wednesday to table a resolu

After roughly two hours of public comment, the Palatine Town Board voted Wednesday to table a resolution to rezone the roughly three-acre parcel where a new town hall might be constructed.

The board members said they needed more time to discuss the project with the town Planning Board.

The parcel, which is near the town Highway Department building at the intersection of Stone Arabia Road and Route 10, is zoned for agricultural use but is proposed for rezoning as a “Municipal Service Area.”

Board members say the current town hall is outdated and dilapidated, and needs to be replaced soon to avoid more problems. More than 50 people attended Wednesday night’s meeting, which was held in the town hall. The building can hold only 37 people, which forced town officials to remove roughly 15 people.

In December the board voted 4-0 to approve a proposal to construct the new town hall. The town recently opened a bidding process for potential contractors.

Town Supervisor Sara Niccoli abstained from voting on the project in December. She and the board have disagreed on the project from the beginning.

A majority of speakers Wednesday voiced concern about the proposed town hall, saying it would be too far from the population center or would cost taxpayers too much money.

Chris Novak, who lives on Stone Arabia Road, said he believes changing the zoning would be detrimental to the flavor of the region.

“Changing the zone would add to more light and traffic pollution,” he said. “This is not in the flavor of the rural context where you are proposing to put the building. I believe a plan of this magnitude should have some rendering so we can see the building.”

Kenneth Ayers, an attorney in the town, said the town should review the Comprehensive Plan before rezoning the parcel.

“Any change to the zoning law should only be undertaken after a calm, deliberative review of the zoning law,” he said.

Village of Palatine Mayor James Post said the proposed town hall is too far away from the population center.

“If we had an emergency and we needed to get food and water to the town hall it would be very difficult to get all the way up there,” he said.

Niccoli said she has talked to many residents and almost four out five say they are opposed to the project.

“Many people are not happy with the Stone Arabia site because it is too far away or in too rural of an area,” she said. “Others believe it will cost too much and think we should find a better use for the money.

“Those who are in favor of it say we have been looking at this project for more than 10 years and they want to just get it done.”

The town in 2004 created a fund for construction.

Niccoli said she has not made up her mind about the proposed new town hall but urged the board to look into ways of consolidating services with nearby towns and exploring ways to procure grant money.

Later in the meeting, citing what he called Niccoli’s inappropriate behavior in recent months, Town Board member Shawn Cotton made a motion calling for her to resign. Three members voted in favor of the motion, one abstained, and Niccoli opposed. But the board can’t legally force the supervisor to resign, so their vote lacked any impact.

The next board meeting is March 25.

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