Woodlands' Real Work Begins With Special Use Permit Approved
No timetable set on when master plan will come before city.
With the Lake Forest City Council’s passage of the amended special use permit Tuesday night, the real work begins for representatives of Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart in Lake Forest and owners of the 23-acre Barat property.
Woodlands Academy Board Trustee Ralph Elwart said he and other Woodlands representatives were “thrilled” at the City Council’s action and happy to have plenty to do next.
“A lot of people put a lot of time and effort into this,” he said. “We’re grateful to all the people who called and have written to us just to voice their input. In the end, it’s all about opportunities for our students.”
Under the ordinance, which allows for merger of the former Barat College campus and Woodlands Academy, a number of precedents must be fulfilled before demolition of the Old Main building can proceed, and before a final master plan can be submitted to the City Council for approval.
Stipulations include protection and maintenance of ravines; cemetery maintenance and stewardship; conservation of the front lawn; reconfiguration of the entrance drive and improving sight lines along Sheridan Road; plans for pedestrian and vehicle movement, and financial security. Plans also must be outlined on the donation or sale of artifacts and re-use or disposal of materials after Old Main’s demolition.
Getting everything in motion “is like trying to juggle seven balls at once,” said Elwart. “We’ve got our work cut out for us.”
One of the first items on the agenda for Woodlands representatives and the landowners is to determine where the cellphone antennas mounted on Old Main can be relocated. The special use permit requires that any wireless replacement plans provide coverage for the city’s southeastern section and the consideration of alternative technologies.
Any replacements also must meet city codes and be designed with neighborhood impact in mind. Any replacement plans would need plan commission review and city council approval.
“It’s all a matter of figuring out alternatives,” said Elwart.
Part of the process includes receiving federal approval for erection of any new cell towers, and this can include obtaining consent from Indian tribes, “even if they never occupied the territory,” he said.
The whole project comes up again for public review once everything else is in place.
“It’s going to take some time because there are so many conditions,” said Lake Forest Community Development Director Cathy Czerniak.
“It just takes some time,” said Elwart. “No one wants it to happen more quickly than Woodlands Academy and the donors, but it just amounts to I really have no idea” when.