Why some South Barrington residents oppose the plan for a new church and school

A church's proposal to build a facility in South Barrington has met with opposition from some local residents.

The Plymouth Brethren Christian Church would like to build a place of worship and a school on Bartlett Road and Route 59.

Critics of the plan say they are concerned about the environmental impact of such a development, as well as the conversion of land – long owned by the South Barrington Park District – to private ownership.

“It changes the use of the land from parks and recreational uses — a use the village approved for public enjoyment as early as 2004 — to one that specifically excludes the public,” said resident Mike Lombardi.

Other concerns raised in an online petition against the project include increased traffic and an additional burden on local police.

A Plymouth Brethren representative could not be reached for comment.

The church's proposal would require the village board to amend an existing village-approved development plan.


The South Barrington Planning Commission, which advises the Board, will hold a public hearing on the proposal Thursday at 7 p.m. at Church Hall, 30 S. Barrington Road.

Expected speakers will include church officials, Park District officials and a resident of the nearby Woods of South Barrington community.

Mayor Paula McCombie said village officials are eager to learn about the church's proposal and to hear the planning commission's recommendation.

Founded in England in the 19th century, the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church has more than 50,000 members in America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. according to the One School Global websitethe company that runs its schools.

Street preaching is a central part of the faith. members follow a doctrine of separation and do not socialize with non-members.

The Church has a school in the Chicago area at Elk Grove Village.

The 34-acre South Barrington property the Church is eyeing has been owned by the South Barrington Park District for about 20 years. The district bought the property, which once housed a tree nursery, as part of a court settlement.

Due to the topography and other factors, officials concluded that the land was not ideal for recreational activities and would be too costly to develop, and made repeated attempts to sell it.

Last April, voters approved a plan to sell the site at auction. Only one bidder attended a live auction in May and won, with an opening price of around $1.7 million.

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