As an owner of Didier Farms, John Didier’s goals are simple and few.
“We’re just trying to be an asset to the community, be a good neighbor and make a living,” he said.
The farm’s future, though, is in jeopardy thanks to a recommendation by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to convert the land into a reservoir that would house storm water pumped from Aptakisic Creek.
Aptakisic Creek feeds into the Des Plaines River. The proposal is part of a much larger plan that officials say would ease flooding along the upper Des Plaines River main stem.
“We just found out about it recently,” said Didier, a third-generation farm owner. His grandfather purchased the land 101 years ago. Didier said he learned of the potential plan for his land—it's at the northeast corner of Buffalo Grove and Aptakisic roads—in a TV newscast.
The Didier family owns 80 acres in unincorporated Prairie View. It would mostly would be swallowed by the proposed reservoir project.
“Once this goes through, that’s one less farm Lake County will have forever,” he said.
The family, which also rents about 120 acres of farmland nearby and 400 acres in DeKalb, has lost space as land is developed, Didier said. The proposed sale of the adjacent Hoffmann Farm to a housing developer will carve away another 20 acres.
“We’ve rented that property for 50 years,” Didier said. The Hoffmann property is also included in the flood mitigation plan.
The farm operation supports three Didier families. The loss of the family-owned 80 acres “would be devastating to our income,” Didier said.
Didier Farms is home to the annual Pumpkinfest and a “pick-your-own vegetable” operation. Its soil yields tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, eggplant and pickles.
Didier said he hopes the Army Corps of Engineers will shift its plans to “someplace else that makes more sense than right here.”
“We’re not planning on quitting,” Didier said. “We’re trying to make a living here.”
Buffalo Grove officials, who just last month reviewed an annexation request for the Hoffmann property, will discuss the reservoir proposal during a Sept. 30 committee of the whole meeting. Village staff members have drafted a resolution opposing the plan.
Buffalo Grove’s 2009 comprehensive plan calls for single-family homes, parks, open space and commercial spaces on that land, if and when the owners are ready to sell the property and annex to the village.
“We want to develop the area and build up the corridor so there are more homes there, more parks and open space for residents to enjoy,” Deputy Village Manager Jenny Maltas said.
“Basically, [those from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers] want to put a big pond there, and that’s not in the interest of the village,” Maltas said. “The village’s intent is to see those properties developed.”
Development plans for the Hoffmann property are moving forward, she added, and ground could be broken on the proposed homes in the spring.
The Didier family began a public appeal Thursday in an effort to gain more support. In an email blast and on their Facebook page, family members urged the community to “help save Didier Farms.”
The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers will accept public comments through Oct. 2. Feedback can be given online, emailed to UDPR&T@usace.army.mil or mailed to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District, 231 S. LaSalle Street, Ste. 1500, Chicago, IL 60604, ATTN: Peter Bullock.