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Local News

Illinois Attorney General’s Office looks into Elwood meeting

Lisa Madigan mulling whether Planning and Zoning Commission violated act Jan. 17

More than 600 Elwood residents listen to representatives of Compass Business Park on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017, during a public comment hearing for a proposal to annex 851 acres for the development of North Point Business Park in Elwood, Ill.
More than 600 Elwood residents listen to representatives of Compass Business Park on Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2017, during a public comment hearing for a proposal to annex 851 acres for the development of North Point Business Park in Elwood, Ill.

ELWOOD – The Illinois Attorney General’s Office asked the Elwood Planning and Zoning Commission to provide more information about what happened during a meeting Jan. 17.

The office received multiple requests to review the commission’s handling of the meeting, according to documents. The requests alleged that the group violated the Open Meetings Act.

Members of the public claimed that not everyone who wanted to address the commission Jan. 17 about the rezoning of land for the controversial Compass Business Park was given an opportunity.

“Specifically, many of the requesters noted that the January 17, 2018, meeting was the third meeting by the commission that included a discussion concerning a development project within the village, which the requesters contend is the subject of public opposition,” documents state.

The two previous meetings, held Dec. 19 and Jan. 11, reportedly provided sign-up sheets for those who wished to address the commission, and speakers believed they would be allowed to speak without a time limit.

Individuals received numbers and when time expired at one meeting, it was understood they would be able to speak at the next one.

Elwood Village Administrator Marian Gibson previously said 97 people signed up to speak, and 60 of those speakers were able to make their arguments and ask questions of NorthPoint representatives during the first two meetings.

However, at the Jan. 17 meeting, only those who previously were unable to speak were permitted to do so. There was no sign-up sheet.

Because attendees were told they only could address the commission if there was additional time for public comment, many individuals left. Ten people, who were not previously cleared to speak, were allowed to address the commission for a maximum of two minutes each, according to documents.

The commission must respond to the request within seven days and provide a copy of the commission’s rules governing public comment during meetings, as well as the agenda and minutes from the Jan. 17 meeting.

The Open Meetings Act states, “[a]ny person shall be permitted an opportunity to address public officials under the rules established and recorded by the public body,” according to the documents.

Village officials did not respond to requests for comment Thursday about the inquiry.

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