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Lone opponent speaks out against Anets Woods housing plan

Sherwin Zaban hasn't given up.

As the 32-house Anets Woods project planned for 16 acres south of his Northbrook house on Lee Road finally nears approval, Zaban says he still thinks it will ruin that backwater street's bucolic nature, and make it unsafe.

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After a three-year process to approve the project by Edward R. James Homes, the final plan was quickly recommended 8-1 Tuesday by the Northbrook Plan Commission in a relatively pro-forma action, just to approve details of the project. The Village Board is expected to follow suit Sept. 27, turning loose the bulldozers.

The project had been tentatively approved by the Village Board April 12. Plans included a south entrance on the 1200 block of Voltz Road, a segment of the east-west street just east of Waukegan Road, and another entrance on its north onto the dead-ending stub of Lee Road, a north-south street. The Lee Road entrance is to be gated, so anyone other than Anets Woods residents can't get through.

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Zaban said any entrance at all on Lee is just "to placate" Voltz Road residents, to bleed cars away from them and quiet their complaints about traffic through their East Northbrook neighborhood.

None of them rose to assail the project. Zaban's was the only voice of malcontent, saying that his street with no sidewalks, popular among dog-walkers, pedestrians and bicyclists, could not stand the extra traffic.

He suggested that making Voltz Road access point a right-turn-only exit would drive all that traffic toward Waukegan Road, and away from that neighborhood, and "placate all of the residents in the area, and allow Mr. James to build his homes."

Zaban also suggested the plans convert the Lee Road access to emergency-vehicles only, freeing his own neighborhood from extra cars.

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Plan Commission Chairwoman Marcia Franklin said that similar ideas had been offered during previous public hearings, but the time for such ideas is past. Northbrook, by law, must approve the tentatively approved plans, as long as engineering details and portions not settled before April are completed.

Zaban, a lawyer, said he understood: he was just trying to get his concept on the record.

He has two aims, he said later. Northbrook trustees could ask builder CEO Jerry James to do what he asked, or his statement could be used in another strategy to get what he wants.

Zaban, last June, complained to the state Illinois Attorney General's Office that the village had violated the Open Meetings Act April 12, so, he said, the tentative approval should be thrown out.

Actions on that day were connected to others occurring the previous year. After the Plan Commission had voted against recommending a 36-unit James project Aug. 4, 2015, the Village Board, meeting in committee, told Jerry James to make it smaller, or risk losing the project. He brought it down to 34 units, but still got a "no" vote from the full board March 8, 2016. The builder was immediately granted a motion to reconsider by trustees, and when he returned April 12, a 32-unit ordinance was waiting, ready to approve. Trustees passed it 6-1.

In documents sent to the attorney general, Zaban maintains that such ordinances must be generated in public. The village maintains, however, that municipal administrators have the right to create draft ordinances with information from parties, and just let trustees vote yea or nay when they're presented with them in public.

"I'm hoping (Attorney General Lisa Madigan) sees it my way," Zaban said.

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Twitter @IrvLeavitt

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