A Message from Mayor Daniel C. Shapiro
Earlier this month, Bridge Industrial withdrew its petitions to annex, rezone and develop the Baxter property. At this time, we are unaware of their future plans, although it has been reported that they are in discussions with Lake County. It remains uncertain whether they will abandon their desire to purchase the 102 acres altogether or approach Lake County with revised plans. If the latter occurs, any zoning or land use process, including potential restrictions, would be handled by Lake County rather than the Village.
Like any developer, Bridge approached us to express their interest in developing and annexing the property, which has been owned by Baxter for nearly 50 years. As part of our standard procedure, we listened to their proposals and gathered relevant information. It is important to note that meeting with developers is a typical and necessary step in understanding a project. However, engaging with developers should not be misconstrued as endorsing, supporting or approving a project, despite what some may assume. Communicating with developers about the process and addressing pertinent issues is simply part of our responsibilities as a Village. There is nothing nefarious about this practice, and suggesting otherwise only leads to unwarranted suspicions and hampers future development opportunities in our community.
Our Village takes great pride in its outstanding schools, parks, services and dedicated police force. We are a caring and compassionate community, ensuring the well-being of our children and elderly residents. We embrace openness, extend a warm welcome to all and foster a genuine sense of community. However, during the Bridge development discussions, it was disheartening to witness instances where innuendo, rumors and smear campaigns overshadowed thoughtful public debate and discussion. Passionate and principled arguments should never be sacrificed at the expense of baseless accusations.
As the process unfolded over the past several months, it became apparent to me that Bridge struggled to present a compelling case, and their plans raised more questions than answers. Legitimate concerns emerged regarding traffic, pollution, noise and alternative uses that had not been adequately addressed. The hearing process and public participation provided valuable opportunities for the Plan Commission and the public to ask tough questions, ultimately highlighting several unresolved issues. Whether you supported, opposed or remained neutral towards the proposed development, I appreciate that Village residents and others voiced their opinions. Engaging in honest debate, free from harsh judgment or incredulity, often leads to better decision-making.
Looking ahead, I have directed our staff to undertake a thorough review of our processes, notification policies, requirements and performance standards for industrial spaces. Just as we have had past projects and development opportunities in Deerfield, we can expect similar ventures and exciting changes in the years to come. I eagerly anticipate exploring these opportunities with future developers, our staff, the Village Board and the Plan Commission. Most importantly, I encourage the active participation in the public hearing process, which is a vital part of our magnificent community.
Daniel C. Shapiro,