Brookfield trustees are expected to vote to approve the Brookfield Public Library’s final planned development application at their meeting on Oct. 28, the culmination of an effort by library officials that began more than a decade ago.
Construction of the new 21,300-square-foot Linda Sokol Francis Brookfield Library, named after the benefactor who donated $1 million to the cause last year, is slated to start next spring.
But, there remains the possibility that the project could be put on ice, at least temporarily, by a resident who has threatened to file a lawsuit claiming the library and its traffic engineer skirted state law in the library board’s rush to move the new design through the planning process.
Mark McCann, who lives in the 3500 block of Park Avenue where the new library would be built, blasted the library board and village officials, calling the development approval process “arbitrary and the outcome predetermined.”
“If you do approve this, I am seriously considering filing for an administrative review in the courts,” McCann told the village board at its Oct. 14 committee of the whole meeting. “I have absolutely no qualms about sinking this entire project even though I support a new library.”
Traffic Analysis and Design Inc. (TADI), the Wisconsin-based firm used to perform traffic impact studies in January and again in September, had let its Illinois license lapse in 2017. After learning of that oversight, the firm took measures to get its license to do business in Illinois reinstated. The firm had its license reinstated Sept. 30.
“Based on all available evidence, TADI was not qualified to perform engineering services in this state during the time both studies were conducted and no evidence has been provided to the contrary,” McCann told the board.
Michael May, a state-licensed TADI engineer who performed a new traffic impact study presented to the Brookfield Planning and Zoning Commission last month, acknowledged that the company’s Illinois license had, indeed, lapsed in 2017 and remained lapsed until it was recently reinstated.
He said the lapse wasn’t intentional and that company officials worked to get the company’s Illinois license reinstated as soon as McCann raised that fact in August.
“Certainly, our company is apologetic to the library and we apologize to the planning and zoning board for what has happened prior to our knowledge that we were not renewed, and we have taken the necessary steps to get ourselves renewed,” May said.
The Brookfield Planning and Zoning Commission on Sept. 26 recommended approval of the library board’s final planned development application over McCann’s objections. While village trustees didn’t venture any opinions on the commission’s recommendation at their Oct. 14 meeting, Village Attorney Richard Ramello said that the village’s code required a traffic study as part of the development application, but that trustees could make its approval independent of the traffic study.
“Those standards can be met whether a traffic study is submitted or not submitted as part of the application process,” said Ramello, indicating that the traffic study submitted with the preliminary application might have run afoul of state law. “While the licensure issue may have some bearing on the credibility of the traffic analysis report, it clearly, with regard to the Sept. 26, 2019 report, does not invalidate the admissibility of that report to the plan commission, because it did bear the signature of a professional engineer.”
In response to an inquiry about whether he intended to follow through with his threat to file an injunction or request for administrative review in the courts, McCann said he was torn.
“A part of me doesn’t want to, because nobody will win and I ultimately want the library built,” McCann said in an email. “But, I am very angry about how this has all played out. The library and village treated this study like a joke from the start, ignoring my and my neighbors’ concerns and our kids’ safety in doing so. …
“The library and village have ignored our right to due process as affected property owners by treating this approval as nothing more than a formality,” McCann added. “Ultimately, I hope we avoid the messiness and a solution can be worked out where the total impact of the library is properly analyzed and planned for, but that can’t happen if the library and village still recklessly believe that there were no improprieties in this process.”
Asked whether McCann’s threat to derail construction, even if it’s just temporary, was a concern, library board President Dianne Duner said she felt that library officials had made an appropriate response by commissioning the September traffic impact study, which was vetted by the village’s engineering firm and was accepted by the planning and zoning commission.
“We acted in good faith,” Duner said. “Mr. McCann obviously has a different opinion and we can’t speak for him.”
If the village board approves the final plan on Oct. 28, Duner said, “We will act on it.”
“Those of us who have been on the [library] board for a while will be elated,” she said. “We have been waiting for this a long time. … Hopefully, we will soon have the actual physical beginnings of a new library that Brookfield deserves.”