Mon, Apr 4, 2011 at 2:32 PM
Alderman Stuart Widman/Alderman David Moore
Second Ward, City of Lake Forest
Dear Stuart and David,
On Wednesday, April 6, 2011 the Building Review Board will be considering the revised building plans being submitted for approval by Dr. Gopal Bhalala for his vacant lot at 27 W. Onwentsia. The first proposal was rejected at the November 3, 2010 BRB meeting. A copy of the 27W BRB MIN 110310 are attached for your convenience.
At last April’s ward meeting, I provided a packet of information to Stuart and Cathy Czerniak documenting the rampant deforestation taking place at 27 W. Onwentsia. Beginning August 11, 2009, Mr. Bhalala’s contractor, Mike Minchello of Gurnee, has acted as a virtual eco-terrorist, flagrantly disregarding the historic and environmentally focused protections enacted by the City of Lake Forest for the environment in general and tree preservation, specifically.
Only one permit was issued. The permit was issued August 18th. The contractor (Minchello) claimed he had pre-permit authorization to work per Mike Glomski, LF Arborist. He said I denied Mr. Bhalala access to his property. Having no alternative, I laid down in front of the Bobcat to stop the progress. To this day, I believe my biggest mistake was ever getting up. I knew the property was half floodplain and half floodway.
It is criminal that trees have been destroyed – possibly for no reason. Why not wait and see if a house, any house, could be built on the site? Why not wait until a permit could be issued.
Even when the CLOMR-F was obtained, there was only conditional FEMA approval, subject to all other stormwater management related requirements. As it turns out, the FEMA Letter was based on site grading plans from 2009.
Here it is, 2011, and no plans have been approved. There are still no plans it might have been based upon. To grade this project would be a feat of engineering wonder. It is a fluid thing or it better be … if the safety and well-being of the surrounding residents matter.
Regardless, a 40 X 160 ft swath of forest was cut away and that is just in front. In back, at least fifty good size trees were uprooted. How big? They reached the size of one story homes and required a front loader to uproot them. All of this on the limited authority of 27 W Tree Permit 8-18-09 for the removal of 6 dead trees which specifically said no trimming or removal of other materials.
Trimming and removal of materials:
Three giant willows were basically stripped of their branches on one side to make room for the 18′ Core Drilling Truck.
When the drilling truck arrived it was a standard height truck. For no good reason, about 15 yrs of growth was hacked away one Sunday morning in the 25 minutes it took to go to Starbucks and back. It was the existing privacy screen between my home and an enormous manor house built lot line to lot line looming over my front garden.
Try as I might, I could find no administrative way to stop this carnage. All the upper agencies deferred down to the local authority. USACE, FEMA, IDNR/OWR, EPA, LCSMC, LCWDO – each of these governmental bodies have very specific and quite complex mandates in place for this “spot zoning”of a regulatory floodway. In fact, there exist quite specific criteria for developing, building or modifying a floodway. Most of these projects having to do with a net gain for the entire community, none of them residential. Projects that meet the criteria are closely controlled from an environmental aspect about limiting excavating, filling and protecting the existing vegetation. None of these protocols seem to have been addressed in this case. Bleck 70-777 27 Owentsia 05-04-11-1
Meanwhile pre-permit, post-permit or no-permit deforestation continues here at the site of this non-permitted/non-project.
It’s pretty ugly to watch but I live here so I don’t get a choice.
Thanksgiving before last, I requested the unnecessary snow fence come down as no “work” had gone on at the site in a long time. I also asked that the debris from the “no trimming” might be removed since it had festered since August 2009 and there was quite a bit. Cathy Czerniak agreed and conveyed the message forward. At Easter time, I called again to make the same request. Cathy must have called again because the developer showed up.
While he did not remove the snow fencing, he did remove the fence posts from the deer fence that belonged to me that he had initially ripped from the ground to tear down the trees in the first place. I also found my invisible dog fence (on my property) had been cut again.
Core drilling and Upturned Nail Hazards:
When these developers took core samples, the holes were left in the ground open and unprotected.
The perfect size for a small child or a dog to break a leg in. When they were asked to cover them, we received no response and ended up doing it ourselves.
When removing fence pieces they left them upturned with nails exposed.
At any convenient time – whatever they wanted to do was unsanctioned and unconscionable either the work began at 4:45 on a Friday afternoon or 8:30 Sunday morning. Times when nobody would be there to respond if you tried to call the city and report them. They have this all calculated out. Why it’s as if they have used this scorched earth policy before. Make things as ugly as you can – as fast as you can – for as long as you can and keep it that way until people are so sick of you they would rather let you build just to get it over with.
Now, at the back of the property, almost no wild life remains. I am talking about a place that had two wetlands and was home to deer, fox, rabbit and all manner of waterfowl, even Great Blue Herons. Owls, bats, hawks, and a River Otter. And, of course, coyote.
Now we just have the coyote. They feast in the debris piles stacked up in the floodway now housing the leftover rodent life. That’s it, and occasionally a confused deer looking for the deer path. The coyote are territorial so they attack my English Setters. Other neighbors are having coyote problems, too.
All 10 surrounding neighbors have objections to this project due to flooding fears. I am sending a petition to the ten directly affected constituents of your ward. I would be grateful if you would address this situation and make sure the BRB will not compromise our health, safety and public welfare by allowing the project to continue.