Proposed veterans cemetery in South Barrington raises noise concerns

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SOUTH BARRINGTON, Ill. — A federal agency’s proposal to build an extension of a national veterans cemetery in Chicago’s northwest suburbs is drawing concerns from one local official about periodic rifle volleys expected at the site.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hopes to acquire 15 acres in South Barrington for an extension of the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery, The Daily Herald reported.

Documents show that plans call for a series of walls to hold 5,000 niches for cremated remains. The number of niches would grow to 50,000 over 100 years. The cemetery is also expected to have rifle fire three to five times per weekday to honor veterans as they’re buried.

“Our veterans earned VA burial benefits and are recognized with a memorial honor guard,” agency spokesman Rick Fox said. “Rifle volleys that are part of this recognition would occur between the hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays. The site would be designed in a manner to direct the associated rifle volley noise away from the existing residences.”

South Barrington Mayor Paula McCombie said that while she supports veterans and would love to have the extension in the city, the project’s proposed location in a residential district isn’t the best spot.

“We have to wait to hear from our residents to see what their opinion is of this,” McCombie said as she expressed concern over the possibility of ceremonial gunfire three to five times a day.

The VA will need to gain approval for a zoning change, since the area is currently designated for single-family homes and 1-acre lots, McCombie said.

The current Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery is located in Elwood, which is southwest of Chicago. Building a cemetery in South Barrington would give Chicago-area veterans and families a more convenient burial option, VA officials said.

Jacob Zimmerman, superintendent of the Veterans Assistance Commission of Kane County, said he supports the South Barrington plan. He said the Chicago-area lacks veterans cemeteries, so building the extension is “a no-brainer to ensure that there is a lasting tribute to our veterans who have given so much.”

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