MAHOMET — A vote on the annexation of multiple subdivisions was delayed to April 23 by the Village of Mahomet Board of Trustees on Tuesday night.
Several people spoke to the village leaders, some with heated comments and others nearly in tears, as a crowd of around 60 citizens gathered at a larger venue for the regular board meeting in the Cornbelt Fire Protection District building.
“We don’t want this,” said Briarcliff resident Corrie Carlson. “I just really ask you to consider my neighbors.”
At issue are proposed annexations that include Briarcliff, Summit Ridge and multiple portions of Lakeview subdivisions. Both Briarcliff and Summit Ridge are “wholly bounded” — surrounded by village land — prompting annexation, while in Lakeview, segments of the proposed annexation tracts are touching village limits on at least one side. Once that occurs, convenants in some of the areas require annexation into the village.
Residents who spoke to the board raised opposition based on added taxes and regulations, and also expressed fear that the rural lifestyle they enjoy might be harmed by their subdivisons becoming parts of the village.
Briarcliff resident Herb Grindley was perhaps the most animated as he addressed the village leaders and audience (see a video of Grindley talking to the board at the Mahomet Citizen Facebook page). He noted that the estimated 300 residents who would be added to the village via the currently proposed annexations come with nearly that many vehicles utilizing roadways, for example, causing more wear and tear and the need for added maintenance and perhaps additional village employees to handle that work.
“How are you going to do that? How are you going to pay for that?” he said. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
He railed against village leadership in general.
“What have you guys done for me lately? Nothing,” Grindley said. “You guys need to straighten up your act.
“You guys are just hoodwinking us and we are tired of it, and we are not going to go away,” he said. “Where are you gonna stop?”
Village President Sean Widener encouraged residents to reach out to him if they have questions that weren’t covered Tuesday or at the lengthy study session March 19. That meeting, which lasted more than three hours, drew a crowd that overflowed from the board meeting room in the village administrative building, prompting the move of this week’s full board meeting to the fire district space.
Widener cautioned against people taking information posted on social media, for example, as fact.
“A lot of the information out there is misinformation, and we can’t control what’s getting posted,” he said.
The village president said officials have tried to address residents’ concerns.
“We certainly spent an ample amount of time last week trying to address all the questions,” Widener said. “We’ve answered everything we can as far as both from the media and private residents. We don’t think there’s going to be any new information out there that we’re going to learn about.”
Briarcliff resident Erik Spitzner noted that he grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and values the rural, nature-rich lifestyle that the subdivision offers.
“We saw Briarcliff and it was perfect. I never thought I would live in an environment like this,” he said. “The truth of the matter is, if you want to change Briarcliff, that’s fine. People like myself will just go elsewhere. I have options. A lot of people don’t. They’ve been here for generations.
“I never thought about moving until these annexation letters come up. I thought I was going to be here for the rest of my life,” Spitzner added. “And now I’m starting to think if you guys move forward with this, once my son graduates high school, I might as well move.
“I thought I had found the perfect place, but I guess I was wrong.”
Bud Parkhill, who noted he has lived in Mahomet since 1954, said, “I’ve seen a lot of changes, mostly for the good, but I think that this is an overreach to go out and try to get these existing subdivisions.
“I just don’t think it’s right for six trustees and the president of the village board here to do an overreach and dictate to about 300 families that their taxes are going to go up,” he said. “I think it’s morally wrong for you to be doing a land grab and taking people over. Next thing you’ll be out in my subdivision, and I just don’t think it’s right.
“Mahomet’s a great community and it’s thriving the way it is, without imposing higher taxes on folks,” Parkhill said. “I just don’t think it’s the right thing.”
Karadan Drive resident Richard Eardley talked about the personality and friendliness that makes Mahomet a close-knit community.
“We had some gentlemen that were up here that were pretty fiery, and we had some people that were close to crying when they’re talking to you,” he said before noting that Mahomet has a friendly atmosphere where neighbors stop to talk to each other. “You meet people walking down the street and you say ‘hello.’ And I think one of the things that’s changing through this whole thing is that fabric. But you’re going to have animosity in this village because you’re taking people’s lives — you’re telling them what to do — you’re taking their money, and I don’t want to have to walk down the street and feel that way, and you shouldn’t have to feel that way either.”
Most of those who attended the meeting and those who spoke up seemed to agree with points made by village resident Jeff Bernett.
“I’m not against Mahomet trying to get growth,” he said. “It’s the kind of growth that you’re doing.”