ZBA Hearing on Coral Township Convent Rezoning Packed

This story has been bumped up because an Friend of McHenry County Blog has sent what was observed at the meeting.  The observations are in italics.

Lots of people attended the Zoning Board of Appeals hearing on re-zoning farmland in Coral Township.

Lots of people attended the Zoning Board of Appeals hearing on re-zoning farmland in Coral Township.

Attended the zoning meeting on 4/9/2015 arriving at 2:15 pm until approx. 4:15 pm.

When I arrived the Nun representing the order of the Frat erne was describing how often she thought the delivery truck would be bringing supplies to the compound ( 1-2 times per year)however, she could not be sure.

Richard Kelly chaired the hearing.

Richard Kelly chaired the hearing.

Repeatedly almost every question being asked was either met with an absolute yes, only to be proven not accurate, truthful or precise

Only 10 people live on the current compound and they believe this is enough to cover all of the needs of the School, Brewery, Wine making and building requirements.

Then it was backed up with additional volunteers will come to help but no one can say how many or who they would be.

Here are some of the questions asked by Attorney Cuda representing Coral Township:

Steve Cuda while running for McHenry Mayor two years ago.

Steve Cuda while running for McHenry Mayor two years ago.

  • How many barrels of beer or wine do you plan to produce: We do not know?
  • How much water and other raw materials will be required: We do not know
  • Will any of the products be sold elsewhere: we do not know?
  • How much money do you make on selling the current items: Rick Kelly jumped in and said they were not obligated to answer this question.
  • Did you operate a go fund site where you collected almost 300K/: Yes, we did.
  • What will stop you from doing that again expecting the taxpayer to fund this operation: Nothing but we will not do it again.
  • How much money will be used for the mission of helping the poor: We do not know
  • How much will it cost you to build the compound: We do not know?
  • How much will the septic system cost: We do not know
  • Will you sell food, Yes, Bread, pastries, canned fruits and vegetables?
  • Are you licensed to sell food: Yes, from who and what organization>>>Well I do not know. We will be approved.
  • Are you able to run and teach in a school? Yes, you mean you have a US education and teaching certificate. Well no but we will get it…
  • Therefore, if the children you will bring from the Austin area will have special needs what you will do. Well, we will get those helps for the children…
  • From where? Well we do not know but we will get them
  • How many children in 2003 were in private schools in McHenry County from that list you were given…4,800 in 2003…now in 2013 how many…$3,800…is that $1,000 less? Yes…
  • However, you still feel we need another private school? No answer.
  • How much will you charge for the school? We do not know. Will they be boys or girls? We do not know
  • How will be in charge of each operation? We do not know
  • When you first requested permission to build, did you say on that paperwork that you would not ask for any variances? I don’t know…Well yes you did…
  • Are you now meeting with zoning to ask for height restrictions? Yes…
  • You said on this petition that the one building will be Barn like…Please tell us what that means.
  • Well it will be concrete. Very strong…
  • Will it be a wood structure? Oh..yYes… Yes. Like that…
  • What will the size be? Oh, I do not know…Like a barn
  • So it will be made of wood? No no brick and concrete
  • Well that does not sound like a barn, as we know it. What will the shape be? Like a barn…
  • Shaped like a Barn? Well I do not know…
  • It does not sound like a barn.
  • Are you asking for over height permission? Yes,
  • So this will be a mega Barn? Yes, very big.

There we a number of Franternite supporters who may have come from Chicago and all spoke with accents. I had never seen any of them before.

The entire time was: I don’t know answers..

And with Mr Kelly blocking their answer to how much revenue they made its impossible to know their financial situation.

Quite honestly I wonder if the go fund me has any protections in place from scammers …

The community and the Government has a right to their financial information give the tax free status they enjoy and fund raising based upon need.

Two women in the center of the crowd wore habits.

A row of women in the center of the crowd wore habits.

= = = = =
Most of those attending seem to be neighbors, but several of the religious order’s nuns were in attendance.

You can read the inspiration for many of those in attendance here.

If any other reader attended and has the time to tell others what happened, please do so in the comment section.


ZBA Hearing on Coral Township Convent Rezoning Packed — 27 Comments

  1. pics are interesting, but what was the meeting about?

    Government power grab?

  2. There’s not much concrete information available on the history and financials of Fraternite Notre Dame.

    They don’t seem to be very transparent.

    As a 501(C)3 they have an EIN number which is 13-3600714.

    Their website is http://www.fraternitenotredame.com.

    Here’s a post of a few people who tried to research the organization.


    The two Illinois addresses of the organization are:

    502 N Central Ave, Chicago, IL 60644.
    10002 Harmony Hill Road, Marengo, IL 60152.

    The Austin neighborhood of Chicago is just east of Oak Park and is dangerous with high unemployment as are many neighborhoods in Chicago, not much hope there for the youth, unquestionably Marengo is a safer environment.

    Central Avenue in Austin has easy access to I-290.
    Harmony Hill Road is in the middle nowhere with easy access to I-90.

    It’s easy with a car to travel between the two locations.

    The Chicago area has a lot of non-profits and with some of the employees having high salaries and benefits the tax exempt rules should be evaluated, but that’s a longer term issue.

    Many are tired of governments and non-profits whom are tax exempt in this or that manner whose employees earn eye opening salaries and benefits.

    Why is it a private winery is not opening in Marengo, but a non-profit winery seems to be viable, that’s the type of question that really bothers a lot of people.

    It’s as if for profits are leaving McHenry County and non-profits are coming to McHenry County; property taxpayers are leaving and property tax exempt is on the rise.

    Which gets back to the financials, there’s not much available for Fraternite Notre Dame, at least not much which can be easily located, no clue of the compensation of the top people in the organization.

    There doesn’t seem to be any reports of crimes or trouble resulting from youths belonging to Fraternite Notre Dame.

    The fact they are new a relatively new start-up religious entity and chose not to or are not yet aligned with this or that entity is something they should explain in more detail so people can understand where they are and where they are heading or hope to head.

    The story about Fraternite Notre Dame being short on cash to fix the boiler in the Chicago location while planning to expand the Marengo location raises eyebrows.

    It’s not clear what ages of Austin neighborhood youths might be relocated to Marengo and for what length of time and what about their families.

    There are taxpayers feeling the pinch of having to pay hiked pensions and retiree healthcare and salaries and and benefits to government workers while providing tax exempt status to social service organizations.

    Taxpayers only have so much money for the government and non-profit social services endeavors, and they are not mutually exclusive.

  3. This religious group scammed people in Chicago,

    They claimed they were poor and their boiler broke down but ended up with a half million in money.

    This is a business and if approved will not pay taxes because they say they are religious even though the Catholic Church (Vatican) does not recognize them. This is a scam.

  4. “Amendment of Conditional Use Permit #05 -04 to A) add 30 acres to the Conditional Use Permit as Parcel 2, B) be allowed to build a barn on Premises to be able to build a commercial kitchen, process grapes for wine making purposes therein, and brew beer and C) be allowed to build and operate a school with an attached dormitory, a nursing home which would include hospice services, and a gift shop to sell pastries, religious and inspirational articles and wine made on the premises with a pastry, beer and wine tasting”
    That is what they want on a rural Township Road. They need to look at buying the Harvard Motorola plant!!

  5. Thank you Cal for posting this information.

    The community needs to know what is going on.

  6. Big Government telling nuns how to use their property.

    How sad.

    Apparently these nuns don’t qualify as religious.

    Let’s look into the books of all the Catholic and Protestant Churches in McHenry County!

    If Government doesn’t approve of how the Churches spend their money, the let’s CLOSE THEM DOWN.

    Kristin Ottolino, you can lead the march!!!!

    Only approved atheist organizations should qualify for tax breaks from now on!….that is ONLY if they don’t sell the Big Gulp.

  7. Hey Skeptic, nobody is saying to close them down.

    Oh, and no problem, I will lead the march anytime someone tries to use fraudulent tactics to devalue our community and make it unsafe.

    Anytime!! (wink wink) BTW, I love your sarcasm.

    I’m sure it helps your argument.


  8. As I understand the process of seeking zoning variances, it isn’t relevant whether the petitioner is a religious order or not.

    Petitioners must prove that their proposed exception to current zoning would not be detrimental to neighbors and larger community.

  9. A beer brewery should be required to describe its wastewater disposal plan.

    Half the water used to produce the product (7-1 ratio of water used to product) goes back out as wastewater.

    Brewery wastewater is nutrient rich, which makes it expensive to handle by municipal water treatment plants.

    If this property is on its own well and septic, and operators simply dump wastewater into surface water, it will cause algae blooms and kill fish in waterways.


  10. I’m confused by their combination of winery-brewery and school.

    The making of wine and beer should be in a commercial location.

    Very skeptical of this development and this organization

  11. I had some dealings with this convent when it was being built about 7 years ago.

    I work in the heavy construction equipment rental business and I had a few pieces of large equipment delivered to a very remote location near Marengo.

    So not knowing what was being built I made a visit a few days after the equipment was delivered and and my jaw hit the floor when I saw two nuns in a 60 foot boom lift and another nun driving a large shooting boom forklift setting large wooden truss.

    I visited the site a few other times and was really taken back that they had built the whole thing themselves.

    I never once got the feeling the were scamming, they just seemed quiet and very private but also very nice.

    The inside of that building is absolutley incredible.

  12. I organized their GoFundMe drive.

    They collected and used $220k between my GoFundMe and the one set up by Windy City Live.

    I don’t think many of you objectors understand how religious organizations operate.

    Many orders operate wineries and breweries to support their mission.

    Their mission in Chicago is noble.

  13. Have any of you been to their place in Austin?

    Before you start making accusations about these ladies, maybe you should take a trip there and see what they do on a daily basis for the poor and sick.

  14. Karma, WOW I read up about them and something seems off about the whole thing.

    I know they paid cash for there equipment and that was all I care about.

    It does appear they truly help the poor.

  15. Big Government is winning.

    We desire now to meddle even into the lives of nuns.

    To justify our aggressive pro-government domination of rights of privacy on private property, we say things like, “they use fraudulent tactics” and even question whether they are Catholic nuns.

    Even Conservatives fall for Big Government’s lies when it serves our personal gain.

    Ben Franklin was right. 🙁

  16. Karma…I read that trash you presented on your link.

    Are you serious?

    The Pope is the anti-Christ and the Catholic Church wants to destroy the world?


    That’s your link?

    I thought your types were limited to the liberal English departments of loser colleges.

    Do you REALLY believe this stuff?

    If you are Christian, Karma, are you aware for the first 1500 years of Christianity, the Catholic Church was the ONLY Church in western Christendom.

    Since Luther, there are 40,000 denominations.

    Think about that.

    Then read Matthew 16:19-21.

  17. +1 Skeptic

    Karma, why not pull out some old Marvel comic books and cite them as your source on the sisters?

    You pull old posts from what is essentially a blog that QUESTIONS the order (no problem there or here) but then you turn around and offer it up as proof.

    Try again and this time use a little common sense.

    The information contained on that site offers all the “proof” of a statement here that “Somebody named Karma who posts on the McHenry County Blog is an axe murdering pedophile who also has sex with dead animals.”

    There, it written in a blog so it MUST be true, right?

    How foolish.

  18. One of the sisters killed a child in a car accident.

    She was found not guilty..I think it was in Huntly.

    This issue is: Do their plans negatively impact the community at large. Yes, it does.

    None of the people who live on Harmony road anticipated a BUSINESS being operated in the area.

    The fact that this group wants to do a number of things like open a school in the middle of a residential area these should be major concerns for the taxpayer.

    The cost for special education is very high.

    If these children need those services we in the community will have to provide them and pay for them.

    Given the school will be K-12 we will have adults ( children over 18 and can be educated up until 21 in in a K-12 environment).

    The Nuns say they will only have 4 adults supervising over 80 children most of which will have issues and special needs.

    That is an impossible number.

    What i think would be a better more viable choice are for the group to move their operations to Austin.

    They can buy buildings and service for far less than they can in Marengo and they would be closer to the people they wish to serve.

    I think they could do a fantastic job of selling their products, running a school, having expert help and support from CPS and the city of Chicago.

    They would be better off financially taking their goods to Chicago to sell..

    In addition the location of the buildings is on protected wet lands in Marengo and over all the environmental impact will be very negative.

    For me I don’t want a compound like this in our community..It has the feel of a cult and I am uncomfortable by that.

    There is a Greek Orthodox Church ( the first Christian faith known to man) built in a residential area of Racine Wisconsin.

    All built by Nuns selling hand made items and food.

    No Beer or Wine or school or boarding house.

    It’s beautiful and the residents love it because its not a disruption or concern to the community.

    It’s very transparent.

    NOT a compound of uncertain activity.

    Anyone here can send money to this group or go Chicago-the Austin district and help out at any time and I admire those of you who do.

    But I think everyone has a right to decide for themselves how they wish to give back and no program or charity should become a liability to the tax payer.

    In addition no one’s quality of life should be negatively impacted by new zoning.

  19. As someone who doesn’t live in McHenry County, but does care about these nuns and their mission…if you all feel that the construction of this would hurt your right to reasonable enjoyment of your homes, then I’m with you.

    But please stop with the anti-religion, anti-Catholic stuff.

    I can personally attest to the fact that they received and used all the donated money for their boilers for that and facility repair.

    I’ve never seen anything shady about them.

  20. Mark

    The group has refused to provide financial information..Unfortunately personal opinion a side the tax payers deserve transparency.

    If you are not willing to provide it then I think consideration cannot be in earnest.

  21. Cynthia, where do we start?

    Can you provide ANY facts that are RELEVANT to the issues at hand?

    Your first “point” a nun’s accident/crash… (it occurred in Dundee and she was, according to you, found not guilty of any charges)

    what does that have to do with the price of fish in San Francisco?

    We ALL deserve transparency…

    Tell us how close you live to this property and show everyone, the religious order included, YOUR tax returns.

  22. Cynthia, Karma, Kristin, what hysteria!

    “The Nuns say they will only have 4 adults supervising over 80 children most of which will have issues and special needs.”

    No-one said that the students will come from the Austin neighbourhood of Chicago.

    Their church gets members from all around Chicago and suburbs far and near.

    None of their church members have “troubled youths”.

    Do seriously think that they would bring troubled youths to disrupt the harmony of the boarding students or the school.

    Since I personally know the members of that church, you are wrong on that account.

    The Mother Superior at the first zoning meeting told the people that any child with special needs would be referred to more appropriate schools.

    Their school is going to be a preparatory school for higher education.

    They presently have several children in their small school program.

    None of them is “troubled” and each of those students have expressed how they love being in the country, how nice and quite it is, and they get to help with the animals.

    Your supposition is all conjecture.

    After buying the extra 30 acres over a year ago; and then they applied for the zoning permit last year before the boilers in the Chicago church broke down and became unrepairable.

    Several companies gave them a quote to replace the boilers.

    The 200k cost was not what they were expecting.

    They did not have that money upfront to do the repairs.

    Good, kind people started the Gofundme account to help out the sisters.

    Frankly, I think it was a miracle that they were able to get that amount of money over a weekend.

    But that is how they survive, it is through donations.

    None of them, not even the bishop gets a wage from all the work they do.

    Even at the bakery shop in Vernon Hills, the volunteers that help out also do not get a wage.

    Land and property can be bought with a mortgage.

    New buildings can be built with a mortgage.

    I believe most people go by that payment plan.

    ome very helpful benefactors helped them with the down-payment.

    And yes, we are all Roman Catholic, and practice the Roman Catholic faith. We do not scam, defraud, or cheat our members or other people.

    God’s commandment is “Do not steal, do not bear false witness”.

    However, what makes you think you are entitled to look into their finances.

    They are not running for office.

    You are not banking their projects.

    And considering many of their church members are poor, the coffers of the church collection is meager compare to other parish churches.

    However, they do accept donations of cash, cheques, endowments, and property.

    All of which are legal tender.

    They have to struggle to make a living out of the cakes and cookies they sell.

    They work in a lot of market areas in Chicago and the suburbs.

    Not everyone is going to buy cakes and cookies,it does not appeal to everyone.

    The winery and brewery, and canning of their organic produce will appeal to a much broader clientele.

    They need to bring other sources of income to support themselves (the order has increased over the past ten years) and support the projects of their mission.

    The boarding school and nursing home/ hospice center will be part of their continued mission.

    They have built a small hospital and several medical clinics in other countries.

    They have doctors, nurses, and medical personal that help them.

    Many people are confused by how we stand with the Catholic Church.

    Individually, we are all Roman Catholic, we practice the Roman Catholic faith.

    However, they are new religious order, started in the 1970s.

    They have tried to put their order under the umbrella of the Vatican.

    They met with Pope John Paul ll, and he sent to Paris, France an emissary to visit their convent and mission and see how their lives serve the church’s vision of corporal works.

    However, a homosexual/ pedophiliac bishop that they had in earlier years refused to support his depraved lifestyle had promised to stump any efforts they made to move their cause under the umbrella of the Vatican.

    This was his vengeance for them not supporting his lifestyle.

    He stopped the emissary from visiting the convent and mission, and sent the emissary back to Rome.

    They never got the justice due to them to move under the auspices of the Vicar of Rome, the pope.

    We have supported all the popes, and the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

    They have applied again, and we ask for your prayers for their success in this effort.

    I hope this helps your understanding.

  23. The nuns are inthe right here.

    What we have here is total racism and anti-catholic bigotry.The town by not granting the sisters their request are in violation of federal law.

    The federal law is very clear and is called rlupa-religious land use and institutionalized persons act.

    I told the sisters they need to file a federal suit in federal court.

    They have filed.

    Its a slam dunk win forthe nuns.

    Robert Tyler of Advocates for faith and freedom a religious freedom firm is assisting the nuns.

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