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Crystal Lake residents fear District 47 could install fence behind their homes

District 47 officials said nothing definite at this time

Longtime residents living behind Glacier Ridge Elementary School, 1120 Village Road, said that they are concerned there may be plans for a chain-link fence to be installed behind their properties.

Crystal Lake Elementary School District 47 officials said Thursday that all that has been done related to any fencing at this point is a land survey to determine whether a fence is necessary.

There are no definite plans to construct a fence at this time, said Denise Barr, coordinator of community relations at the district.

“We have had a land survey done to determine property lines of the school,” Barr said. “Should we decide to add a fence, we will follow our typical protocol and apply for a permit. 

“Glacier Ridge Elementary School houses several special education programs. Over the past several years, school administration has had some concerns about student safety and keeping students within school boundaries,” Barr said. “We are exploring the possibility of adding a fence to increase student safety and serve as a visual boundary for students.”

Residents are welcome to bring any questions or concerns related to the fence issue at the next district board meeting Aug. 19.

“We have made no decisions on fencing yet,” Barr said Thursday.

Officials at the city of Crystal Lake said no permits have been applied for. Should the district install a fence, permits and city approval would be required.

Patricia Heinke has lived behind the school almost 23 years and is vehemently opposed to a fence behind her home. She questions why, after 18 years, the district would decide it needs a fence to protect students.

“It is going to bring down my property value,” said Heinke, who has lived in Crystal Lake a total of 44 years. “If I wanted a fence, I would have put up a fence years ago. I don’t need a fence in my backyard. I like it all open. This is totally wrong.”

She also said she is opposed to any tax money being used to build an unnecessary and unwanted fence.

Lisa Skwarek’s property does not back up to the school, but the properties of her parents and aunt and uncle do.

“I feel like the school was wrong not putting it on their list of summer projects,” she said referring to a district email she received because she has a child in the school district.

Skwarek said the homeowners directly affected, such as her parents and aunt and uncle and their neighbors, were not notified by the district. They only learned of the possibility of a fence because surveyors were in their yard. The homeowners were told by the surveyors they were out there measuring for a fence, Skwarek said.

She and other residents dispute the idea that a fence is needed to protect students from running off or to keep pets off of school property. She said there have not been any such problems in the past.

Residents have likened the fence situation to the bleachers case between Community High School District 155, the city and neighbors living behind Crystal Lake South High School. In 2013, the district erected 50-foot, $1.2 million bleachers without going through the city’s zoning approval process. That case went all the way up to the Illinois Supreme Court, and the district ultimately lost its battle.

The district was forced to take down the bleachers to an acceptable height.

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