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The Village Voice
News from the Village of Vernon Hills
September 9, 2020
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In This Issue of
the Village Voice

  • Masks When Dining
  • April 6 Candidates
  • Shuttle Bus Offer
  • Ballot Boxes
  • No Fall Fest
  • Mall Hearing Oct 6
  • Pageant Thank You
  • Board Schedule
  • Finances
  • Body-Worn Cameras
  • Garbage Contract
  • Arbortheater Pond
  • PetSuites
  • HVAC
  • Young Learners Open
  • Commute Survey
  • Preparedness
  • Census
  • Markets
  • Reach Out

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Happy Fall!

Did you know September 1 is the first day of meteorological fall? Whatever the season (or the weather), we hope you have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of our community. The photo above is from Harvey Lake. #BeautifulVernonHills
 
Poster art courtesy of the Winnetka Northfield Chamber of Commerce.

Mask Up in Restaurants, Please

A friendly reminder that Illinois now requests that we don face coverings when interacting with staff at restaurants and bars. That is, when the server comes to the table, please remember to cover up. It is our hope that by being vigilant we can take care of all of our wonderful local eateries and the people who work there. Thank you for continuing to be good neighbors as we work to care for each other during this Pandemic.

April Election Schedule...
Circulate Petitions Starting September 22

People interested in running for public office and appearing on the April 6, 2021 Consolidated Election ballot may begin circulating nomination papers beginning September 22, 2020. The first day to file completed candidate petitions will be December 14, 2020.

The April 6 ballot will include a variety of local elected positions, including the position of Vernon Hills Village President as well as four Village Trustee positions (three 4-year term seats and one 2-year term seat). Candidate packets will be available at Vernon Hills Village Hall, Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., starting on September 22.  

Interested candidates may also learn more by visiting the Candidate Services webpage provided by the Lake County Clerk. For more information about Village roles and responsibilities, please contact Village Manager Mark Fleischhauer at 847-918-3550 or mfleischhauer@vhills.org. Note that other local organizations (including Boards that govern schools, park districts, libraries and townships) will also have open positions in the April 6 Consolidated Election. 

Attention Local Nonprofits & Others...
Village Senior Bus Available

During the September 1, 2020 Vernon Hills Village Board Meeting, Trustees directed staff to seek options for either selling the Village’s Senior Shuttle Bus or donating the bus to a local 501c3 nonprofit organization. Because the Village has transitioned to the personalized Senior Taxi Program, the 8-person bus is no longer needed for the Senior Ride Program. Interested organizations are asked to contact Village Manager Mark Fleischhauer at MFleischhauer@vhills.org by October 5, 2020 with a letter of interest outlining how the organization and/or stakeholders would benefit from use of the bus. 
 
For background, the vehicle is a 2016 Ford E350 with a StarTrans Bus Candidate II Conversion, built by Midwest Transit Equipment. The 6.8L V-10 gasoline engine has 56,527 miles, and offers one year of the initial 5-year warranty. The bus is equipped to transport 8 people and one wheelchair, and features a wheelchair lift. The bus first entered service in Vernon Hills on July 21, 2016 and was purchased for $50,469. For more information about the vehicle please contact Public Works Fleet Crew Leader Scott Churchill at 847-680-2276. You may also learn more by viewing Vernon Hills Village Board Meeting - 9/1/20.


Postage-Free Ballot Boxes

In light of the Pandemic, Lake County encourages residents to vote before the November 3 Election. To support the "mail in" voting effort, Lake County has set up secure postage-free ballot boxes in several locations around the county – please refer to the full list of Lake County Ballot Drop Box Locations, including one at 24647 N. Milwaukee Ave., Vernon Hills. Note that if you have participated in a recent election, you should have already received your vote-by-mail ballot request, which you then use to request your ballot. You may also request a vote-by-mail ballot through the Lake County Voter Power web portal. More information about Illinois voting by mail as well as all ways to vote are included in the Lake County Clerk's Voter Services webpages.
 

No Fall Fest This Year

In light of the continued Pandemic, the Village has decided to skip this year's Fall Fest (also known as Oktoberfest). The Village has also received inquiries as to how we will handle Trick or Treating. Staff is monitoring public health agencies for guidance, and will share that information as we get closer to October 31.
 
Artist's rendering of concept for Hawthorn Mall retail/residential project.

Hawthorn Mall Redevelopment...
Public Hearing October 6

The Village of Vernon Hills continues discussions with Centennial Real Estate, owner of Hawthorn Mall, regarding plans for renovating and rejuvenating the property. While the Village has seen and shared numerous concepts for the property, including a plan to demolish portions of the building and build luxury apartments, there are currently no permits, nor have there been any agreements or incentives approved by the Village Board.

Next Step – Public Hearing on October 6: While plans remain in preliminary stages, the next step in the schedule is to call a Public Hearing, which is currently planned for Tuesday, October 6 starting at 6 p.m. More information will be provided as procedures are determined.

 

About Hawthorn Mall Redevelopment...


One Tool is a TIF: One economic development tool available to support any redevelopment effort is to create a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District, which calls on taxing bodies to work in partnership today for long-term gains realized in the future. A TIF freezes property taxes at the level being collected when the TIF is created, then uses any incremental growth created by improvements over the life of the District to help cover the costs of things like infrastructure improvements for new roads, utilities, lighting, etc. By working together, all taxing bodies and the wider community benefit from the improvements that are developed over the life of the TIF.

Additional Student Fees Available to Schools: During the life of the TIF, schools are also able to recoup the actual cost for educating each new student who moves into newly created apartments, though developers note that such properties generally do not house many school-age children. In fact, a similar luxury complex at Mellody Farm (The Atworth) generated only a couple of students for Vernon Hills High School and only a few more for Hawthorn District 73, though Hawthorn did not have that enrollment figure available during the most recent meeting of the Joint Review Board.

TIFs Widely Used to Support Economic Development: TIFs have been used in the Village to develop Vernon Hills Town Center at Milwaukee Avenue and Route 45 as well as at Mellody Farm. Other notable TIF districts in other municipalities include the Wheeling Town Center on Dundee Road and the redevelopment of Northbrook Court.

TIF Qualification Report: As part of the Mall Redevelopment Project, Illinois Law directs the Village to determine that the Mall qualifies for TIF designation. The TIF Qualification Report outlines how the Village believes the property currently qualifies – for instance, obsolescence, deterioration and excessive vacancies – while the Draft Hawthorn Mall Tax Increment Financing Redevelopment Plan and Project Report offers a more complete outline of the project under consideration.

Joint Review Board (JRB): To create a TIF, Illinois Law requires the Village to convene a Joint Review Board (JRB), an advisory body to the Village Board. It is composed of a representative from each of the affected taxing bodies, plus one member of the community. The board reviews the public record, planning documents and proposed ordinances approving the redevelopment plan and project, and proposed amendments to the redevelopment plan or additions of parcels of property to the redevelopment project area to be adopted by the municipality. A board's recommendation are advisory, non-binding recommendations. The board shall base its recommendation to approve or disapprove the redevelopment plan and the designation of the redevelopment project area or the amendment of the redevelopment plan or addition of parcels of property to the redevelopment project area on the basis of the redevelopment project area and redevelopment plan satisfying the plan requirements, and the eligibility criteria defined in Section 11-74.4-3, of the Illinois TIF Act. 

JRB Majority Approves TIF: The Joint Review Board for the proposed Hawthorn Mall TIF met on August 13 and August 27, with the task of reviewing the TIF documents and making a recommendation to the Village Board. By a vote of 7 to 2 with one abstaining, JRB representatives voted to recommend that the TIF move forward. Meetings were recorded and can be watched on the Village YouTube Channel – Vernon Hills Joint Review Board Meeting - Proposed Hawthorn Mall Redevelopment Project Area 8/13/20 and Vernon Hills Joint Review Board Meeting - Proposed Hawthorn Mall Redevelopment Project Area 8/27/20.

Public Hearing Planned for October 6: As previously noted, the next step for the Hawthorn Mall Redevelopment Project is a Public Hearing currently planned for Tuesday, October 6 beginning at 6 p.m. More information about the meeting, including any public health accommodations or procedures, will be shared prior to the meeting.

More Information: More information about TIFs is available on the Hawthorn 2.0 webpages located on the Village website. Information is also available on the Illinois General Assembly Compiled Statues webpages – Tax Increment Allocation Redevelopment Act, and from the Illinois Tax Increment Association (Illinois-TIF.com). Questions may also be directed to Village Manager Mark Fleischhauer at MFleischhauer@vhills.org.

 
Trustees honored all of the participants in the 2020 Vernon Hills Pageant. Special congratulations to newly crowned Little Miss Adija Varnelis, Junior Miss Jeneen Alsamsam and Miss Madisyn Chiarello. Thank you to all participants, volunteers, sponsors and families. Special thanks to volunteer co-directors Karen Kalinowski and Kelly O'Bryan.

BOARD ACTIONS

Meeting Schedule:
    
   Tuesday, September 15
   Tuesday, October 6
   Tuesday, October 20

 
  • In-person meetings have resumed at Village Hall, 290 Evergreen Drive, beginning at 7 p.m., unless otherwise noted. Note that masks, social distancing, capacity restrictions and other measures will be in place to support a safe environment.  
  • The full Meeting Schedule is available on the Meeting Schedules webpage. 
  • Agendas and minutes are posted online; Meeting recordings are available on the Village YouTube Channel
  

Actions of Interest

Fiscal Year Ended Strong: During the September 1 Board Meeting, Village Chief Financial Officer Kyle Cratty explained that the Village is closing out the books for the 2019-2020 Fiscal Year, which ran from May 1, 2019 to April 30, 2020. Unaudited figures show that despite the Pandemic, the Village ended the year solidly as revenues hit adjusted projections and staff implemented reductions. Final audited documents are expected to be available shortly, and will be posted on the Village's Financial Documents webpage. (Vernon Hills Village Board Meeting - 9/1/20)

Finances Looking Forward: CFO Kyle Cratty explained that with regard to the 2020-2021 Fiscal Year (which began May 1, 2020), the Village has been hitting appropriate financial marks for the budget, which was adjusted to account for the Pandemic. Staff has eliminated more than $2 million in expenses, and Village businesses have done a bit better than anticipated, thanks to the ability to provide online sales and outdoor dining. (One of the Village's primary sources of revenue is a portion of sales tax collected in town; Unlike other public bodies, the Village of Vernon Hills does not collect any property tax.) Because all indications are that the Pandemic will continue longer than initially forecast, the Finance Department will extend the "Pandemic Model" and report back to the Board during upcoming meetings. (Vernon Hills Village Board Meeting - 9/1/20)

Police Test of Body-Worn Cameras: Vernon Hills Police Chief Patrick Kreis reported to the Board that the Department's free trial-run with 10 body-worn cameras was very successful. Feedback from officers was positive, with cameras proving useful in recording and reviewing actions such as traffic stops and officer responses, as well as in more routine activities in support of businesses and the community. Chief Kreis will report back to the Board with a more complete proposal. (Vernon Hills Village Board Meeting - 9/1/20)

Village Waste Hauling Contract Update: Assistant Village Manager Jon Petrillo updated Trustees on the status of the potential acquisition of Advanced Disposal (our current garbage hauler) by Waste Management. While there are indications that the DOJ will approve the acquisition within the next several weeks, the change is expected to have little impact on the Village aside from new branding. In anticipation of this acquisition, the Village worked with SWALCO to renegotiate our residential garbage contract through November 2025. The goal was to lock in pricing, which is expected to increase after the merger due to the subsequent reduction in competition. (Vernon Hills Village Board Meeting - 9/1/20)

Arbortheater Pond Repair: Public Works Director David Brown shared that work was underway to stabilize and repair the Arbortheater's lower pond and waterfall, which is sending a great deal of sediment into not only the recently dredged Arbortheater water retention feature but also downstream into the water shed, which could have a negative impact on how stormwater moves through town. Work is expected to be completed yet this fall. (Vernon Hills Village Board Meeting - 9/1/20)

Concept Proposal for PetSuites: During the September 1 Committee of the Whole meeting, representatives from PetSuites presented their initial concepts for repurposing the former Bally/LA Fitness at 30 West Phillip Road into a pet daycare. As presented, all activities would occur inside the facility, which would feature an extensive system of floor drains connected into the existing sanitary sewer system. PetSuites has already conducted a sound study, which indicates that the building's thick concrete and brick walls combined with minimal windows offers what they believe to be excellent sound mitigation qualities. Trustees were favorable to the concept, which now moves to staff technical review, followed by Planning and Zoning (with a public hearing), before returning to the Village Board for any decision. Community Development Director Michael Atkinson noted that as part of the process, Trustees would need to consider a zoning change to the parcel, which is currently zoned for office use. (Vernon Hills Village Board Meeting - 9/1/20)

Village HVAC Repairs: Public Works Director David Brown shared that staff has been working with a consortium of other municipalities to look at options for replacing aging and inefficient HVAC systems in several municipal buildings, including the Municipal Golf Course Clubhouse, the Public Works Facility, and Village Hall. While the Village had initially budgeted $240,000 to replace these systems, consortium purchasing power has driven the price down to approximately $189,000. Staff noted that none of the existing systems meet today's energy standards, and all have greatly exceeded their typical life expectancy.  (Vernon Hills Village Board Meeting - 9/1/20)

Economic Support Programs: The Village continues to monitor programs available to provide support during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Residents are encouraged to check the Village's Economic Support During COVID-19 webpages as well as the Lake County Coronavirus Updates webpage for available resources and support. 

Community Announcements: Residents are reminded of the Village's Community Voice webpages, which provide a place to announce events and activities. Please submit your items to Social@vhills.org.
 

Hawthorn School for Young Learners

Monday, August 24 marked a huge milestone for Hawthorn District 73 and the entire community as dignitaries officially opened the new $13.5 million Hawthorn School for Young Learners, located on Aspen Drive. While students are currently learning remotely, school principal Dr. Jill Martin knows it is only a matter of time before the space – which features 16 classrooms and a variety of flex space options – will be filled with kindergarteners. The building was built with cooperation from the Vernon Hills Park District, which adjusted plans for their remodel of the Sullivan Community Center to allow the new school to connect to and share space with the Park District. The Village of Vernon Hills and Cook Memorial Public Library District also worked together to donate land and accommodate the new construction. The school was built as part of a November 2018 referendum approving a $48 million building program for Hawthorn District 73, with renovations also underway at Hawthorn Middle School North and in the planning stages for Hawthorn Elementary South.

Lake County is looking for your feedback about your commute times. Take the MY Commute Lake County Survey. Learn more about the project and current transportation plans by visiting the MY Commute Lake County Study webpage.
 
Learn how to prepare at Ready.gov
Have you responded to the Census yet? Even though Census workers are moving through the neighborhoods, you may still go online and complete the very simple survey – visit 2020Census.gov.
Join Hawthorn Mall for the 1st Artisan & Maker Market each Saturday and Sunday from September 12 through October 11. Visit from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays at Macy's North parking lot. Food trucks and entertainment will be on site for select dates. Attendees will be required to wear face masks and are asked to practice social distancing. Artisan or Maker? To reserve a booth space for selling products, contact sphelps@centennialrec.com.

#BeautifulVernonHills

"Alone we can do so little;
Together we can do so much."


– Helen Keller


Thanks for reading
The Village Voice


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