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updated: 12/7/2011 11:38 PM

Legal fight over Naperville golf course continues

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  • DuPage County forest commissioners aren't abandoning their efforts to forcibly acquire Country Lakes Country Club in Naperville.

      DuPage County forest commissioners aren't abandoning their efforts to forcibly acquire Country Lakes Country Club in Naperville.
    Daily Herald file photo

 
 

The DuPage Forest Preserve isn't ready to give up its push to forcibly acquire a golf course in northwest Naperville.

A week after the district's effort to buy Country Lakes Country Club suffered a legal setback, forest preserve commissioners directed their attorneys to request another hearing before the Illinois Supreme Court. The petition is due Dec. 22.

"We're not going to abandon it," forest preserve President D. "Dewey" Pierotti Jr. said of the condemnation proceedings that began 12 years ago.

The Supreme Court last week ruled the $10.7 million price tag for both Country Lakes and an adjacent undeveloped parcel isn't valid because a DuPage County jury set that amount four years ago using information from a 1999 appraisal.

Instead, the price of the entire 204-acre site south of Diehl Road and west of Route 59 should be based on its most current value, the Supreme Court decided.

However, district officials said in a written statement that the Supreme Court's ruling is "a significant departure" from more than 100 years of Illinois case precedent.

"While respectful of the Illinois Supreme Court's decision," the statement reads, "the Forest Preserve District believes the opinion may not fully consider the impact this new ruling will have on other case considerations that will now need to be addressed once it is returned to the trial court for further proceedings."

But James Wagner, attorney for golf course owner Robert Krilich, said he would be "very surprised" if the Supreme Court granted the district's petition for a rehearing, adding that such requests often are rejected.

If the ruling stands, it would be up to another jury in DuPage to determine the latest value of the land after a new trial next year.

Forest preserve officials say their expert consultants believe the current value of Krilich's land might be lower than the $10.7 million jury verdict, considering the depressed real estate market.

"The forest preserve has been known for undervaluing property, and it doesn't surprise me that they would say that," Wagner said. "It's obviously in their interest to suggest that."

Even with falling property values, Wagner said he believes the value of the land is at least $20 million.

If the district abandons its effort to acquire the land, it would be required by law to pay all of Krilich's legal fees for the past 12 years -- nearly $1 million.

"We couldn't just walk away," Pierotti said.

The forest preserve would get back the $10.7 million it set aside after the jury's 2007 verdict. The district raised that money through of a $75 million referendum proposal voters approved in 1997.

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