Commissioners give green light to land cooperative in Cook County
Submitted image

Commissioners give green light to land cooperative in Cook County

The land cooperative model is coming to the east end of Cook County.

Known as the Tamarack Land Cooperative, the 40-acre property along the North Road will be a unique enterprise in Cook County.

One week after the local planning commission approved the project, the Cook County Board of Commissioners gave the green light for the proposal to form a cooperative on land that sits between the Arrowhead Trail and the unincorporated community of Hovland.

So what is a land cooperative?

Essentially, it’s an arrangement where cooperative members will pay a monthly or annual usage fee to grant them full use of the property while on site. According to the property’s current owner, Paul Stucker, there will be three full time resident members (including Stucker), six members staying 50 or fewer nights per year, and ten members staying 14 or fewer nights per year.

According to the cooperative’s permit application to the county, the land-use model will “provide equitable access to stay and recreate in the area, while also building a community of people with shared values.”

Included in their cooperative model are a variety of uses for the property, including vacation rentals, artist residencies, public events and to raise chickens.

The county board approved the project during a meeting June 14. It passed on a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner Stacey Hawkins casting the only vote against the interim use permit (IUP).

Although the permit was approved Tuesday by the county board, more restrictions are now in place, in addition to those drafted by the planning commission. For example, the length of the IUP was decreased from five years to two years. The number of events and the size of the events held on the property each year was also decreased. The planning commission approved 12 events on the property annually, with up to 80 people being allowed to attend. The county board scaled that back to five events per year, with no more than 40 people attending.

In addition, there are nine conditions the property owners need to meet in order to comply with the permit, including expanding the septic system on the property, monitoring and limiting noise and light pollution and following all rules and regulations related to short-term rentals in Cook County.

There were concerns expressed by some Hovland residents about the proposal, both during the planning commission meeting June 8 and Tuesday’s meeting of the county board. There was also support of the project and land cooperative from local community members, Commissioner Dave Mills said.

“We have these concerns, and the public has brought these concerns,” Mills said. “There is also significant public support, I want to point out. And so I don’t want to dismiss that. It’s just that we’re trying to be conservative in how changes are done in the neighborhood and how property is used.”

Moving forward, the property will be unique both in terms of how the land is owned and what it offers to artists or others looking to enjoy life in a remote pocket of the county. That being the case, the vision for the property did not have the full support of the county board. In expressing her concerns about the property owner’s request, Hawkins, who was the lone nay vote Tuesday, said she was not sure it was the right fit for this residential district.

“I do not believe the proposed use of this parcel to be consistent with the desirable pattern of development in the area,” Hawkins said.

Now that the IUP is approved, the county still needs to determine taxation for the property. The cooperative land model does little in the means of determining its tax classification, as it is not a nonprofit organization. The word ‘resort’ surfaced with regard to classification, both during the planning commission meeting and the county board meeting. Ultimately, the Cook County assessor will determine how to tax the parcel.

Commissioner Bob Svaleson, who represents the Hovland area, said reducing the permit to two years could be an opportunity for the county, the property owners for the land cooperative and nearby property owners to become more familiar with the project.

“It provides the opportunity in that two-year period to better understand and put together the business model and how it’s going to work and what works for that facility,” he said.