Citizens for Conservation expands Flint Creek Savanna preserve

by Alberto Moriondo

Foley1Last month, Citizens for Conservation (CFC) announced that it is expanding its Flint Creek Savanna preserve by acquiring the three remaining lots in the Foley Court Subdivision. This brings to a successful conclusion an initiative the Land Preservation Committee began in 2005 when it purchased one of the lots in the subdivision and received a donation of the adjacent five-acre wetland. This is a strategic parcel given its proximity to Flint Creek Savanna and demonstrates that CFC’s patience and determination ultimately yield excellent results.

In 2005, at the height of the real estate boom, a developer made plans to build an eight-house subdivision along Henry Lane in Lake Barrington. He wished to annex a five-acre parcel located in unincorporated Cuba Township to add to an existing pre-approved four-house subdivision on five acres in Lake Barrington. This subdivision would have altered radically the nature of the existing neighborhood along Henry Lane and would have impacted severely CFC’s Flint Creek Savanna. Led by CFC member Kirsten Moriondo, neighbors mobilized and successfuly blocked the proposed five-acre annexation to Lake Barrington. The developer came back with a revised proposal to build four houses on his Lake Barrington lot. That is when CFC intervened and reached an agreement that resulted in CFC’s purchase of Lot #4 (the northwest lot) and the donation of the adjacent five-acre wetland for a total that preserved more than six acres. This acquisition provided an ecological buffer to CFC’s Flint Creek Savanna and enabled construction of a water detention system that respected the mandated buffer zones without the need for any variations as requested by the developer.

FoleyPropertyGISFast forward to 2012. After the collapse of the real estate bubble, the proposed housing development was not built and went into foreclosure. However, CFC had remained vigilant to ensure that if and when someone wanted to build on this property, we could intervene. In fact, we did. When we learned that the bank that owned the foreclosed property was ready to sell the remaining three lots to a new developer, we rapidly mobilized. With the help of our long-time legal counsel Dave Lynam, we successfully negotiated and purchased the three roughly one-acre lots at a unit price that was approximately half of what we paid at the height of the real estate boom.

As part of the ensuing negotiations, CFC gave the other bidding party an option to purchase one of the three lots, thus mitigating our overall financial commitment and the extent of the potential development of this subdivision. In addition, we are in discussions with the Village of Lake Barrington to vacate the Foley Court Road and turn it into open space. We see this as a win-win situation for all parties involved, but more importantly one in which CFC’s persistence and long-term vision prevailed.

Since 2005, CFC has been successful in securing over fifty acres of open space in the Barrington area, both directly and by working with private and local government entities. With this new addition, CFC now has 376 acres under management, and over the past forty years we have helped protect more than 3,000 acres in the Barrington Area Council of Governments area. In the last seven years we have secured 155 acres of open space both directly and by working with the Village of Lake Barrington and the Lake County Forest Preserve District. CFC’s Land Preservation Committee believes that current market conditions are very favorable for land preservation and is committed to expanding its
natural lands initiatives in the months and years ahead.