Mayor's Message on Baxter/Bridge Proposal
As most of you know, after almost 50 years, Baxter International announced last year that they were closing their offices and moving out of unincorporated Lake County. That decision was disappointing but not unique in today’s office environment. Workplace dynamics have changed and many employers, like Baxter, are allowing employees to choose a hybrid work model consisting of both days working remote and days in the office. Many other major office occupants and tenants have consolidated or closed both in our community and nationwide. Not that long ago, Baxter had thousands of employees, 643,000 sq. ft. of occupied space, employee bus service from the Lake Cook Train Station and 1,479 parking spaces. We will miss them.
After Baxter’s announcement, Bridge Industrial expressed an interest in not only purchasing Baxter, but also annexing the 102 acres of land - currently zoned limited industrial and general office under the Lake County Zoning Ordinance - from unincorporated Lake County into our Village. They, like any other developer, have the right to submit their application to the Village. That application must address their request for annexation and in order to advance their proposed redevelopment it must include documents, zoning, plans, studies and more. Their task, like any applicant interested in our Village, is to come to our Plan Commission and then our Village Board and address the zoning standards and other application criteria set forth in our code. In doing so the Village, as opposed to Lake County, has the ability to review their zoning and land use requests. In considering their application we always keep in mind the extent to which a development may or may not benefit our community, whether it be by way of zoning or other land use controls.
Many have expressed concerns or questions about this proposal and others have expressed support. This has garnered a lot of attention on social media and other platforms. Our Plan Commission and Village Board have received many letters and emails, which are posted online.
We want you to know that in this process, everyone will have the opportunity to be heard. The Plan Commission will conduct public hearings which will include Bridge’s presentation and comments from the Plan Commission and the public. The next public hearing is Thursday, May 11 at 6:30 p.m. at Deerfield High School at 1959 Waukegan Road. In accordance with our past practice, neither I nor Village Trustees will attend Plan Commission meetings, not because we are not interested, but rather to maintain our impartiality and out of respect to the Plan Commission’s autonomy. While some communities may differ in this regard, Deerfield elected officials have traditionally avoided attending Plan Commission hearings. Rest assured though, we will review all the applicant’s materials, public testimony, minutes and/or video of the meetings as part of our consideration.
The Board, at the conclusion of the public hearings, will then consider the Plan Commission’s recommendation. Until then, I assure you that no one on this Board has or will prejudge Bridge’s application and I urge all of you to try not to prejudge or make assumptions. It is important that all of us try to respect the process, stick to the facts, and come to our own conclusions based on what is stated in the application and at our meetings.
Daniel C. Shapiro,