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Chicago Botanic Garden, neighbors get compromise fence plan
Anti-deer fence will go up, but some areas to get a vegetation-covered barrier

Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Chicago Tribune
by Susan Berger and Tracy Gruen

Residents along the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe got a bit of reprieve when the Village Board decided to allow an 8-foot fence to be built around the garden but excluded certain areas near their homes.

Trustees voted unanimously to let Botanic Garden officials build the fence in the McDonald Wood area bounded by Lake Cook and Green Bay roads but decided for now to exclude the residential area of Longmeadow and Pebblewood lanes and along the 17th hole of the Glencoe Golf Club course.

Jason Conviser, one of the Longmeadow residents who has fought the fence, said he was pleased his area was excluded and that village officials did a good job balancing the garden's desire to build the fence to keep deer out and the residents' concerns about safety and losing their views of the garden.

Still, Conviser and other residents worry that the solution will send more deer into their neighborhood and create a safety risk for children and motorists.

"Is the gem of the Botanic Garden more important than the residents?" resident Mark Rice said to trustees before their recent vote.

Village officials assured residents that the deer population will be addressed through culling or other means if it becomes a problem.

The plan is to install the fence this spring 100 feet off the curb on Lake Cook Road and 50 feet off the curb on Green Bay Road with the understanding, Glencoe Public Works Director David Mau said, that the fence will weave around trees. The 100-foot setback on Lake Cook will allow for future bike paths along the road, officials said.

Along the areas exempted from the fence, the garden will install sample fencing with vegetation. Those areas will be re-evaluated once the plantings grow in to determine if they're acceptable to the village and the residents.

Conviser, who is also involved in a grass-roots effort to thwart a plan that would allow the village to sell a portion of the golf course for redevelopment, said the fence issue is not over.

"We appreciate the cooling off, the let's-investigate-more (plan), that the village has opened its eyes to different issues and been supportive," he said. "But we can't just lay back and assume the fence will just go up. We still have to fight and hope the Botanic Garden will say the fence is not appropriate for this environment."

Bill Brown, the garden's vice president for facilities and planning, said garden officials "accomplished what we wanted to." He said expects the sample fence near the homes to be screened enough by vegetation by late April or early May, at which time it will be reviewed with neighbors and tweaked as needed.

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