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Article updated: 10/19/2012 6:30 PM

West Dundee taking church to court over parsonage

By Lenore T. Adkins

West Dundee's patience with a church that has repeatedly rebuffed requests to repair its decaying parsonage has finally run out.

The village has filed an emergency motion against First United Methodist Church, one the village hopes will force the church to repair or replace the historic parsonage's roof, masonry, wood siding and parts of the roof that are water damaged.

The village also asks the court to appoint a receiver, someone who would make sure all of the work gets done.

The motion was filed Thursday in Kane County and will be heard Wednesday before Judge Thomas Mueller.

The stalemate between the church and the village has gone on for at least six years and there doesn't appear to be an end in sight.

A frustrated Village Manager Joe Cavallaro said there was no other choice but to take the church to court.

"I think the village has been extremely patient and the last thing we wanted to do is take this through the court system," Cavallaro said. "We've been just trying to find a reasonable solution to preserving the historic structure and that's the village's end goal."

Neither church representatives nor their attorney, Tom Sullivan, could not be reached for comment Friday.

The parsonage, at 310 Main St., dates back to 1849 and is one of the oldest homes in the village. It's listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural and historic significance. The parsonage was built by Alfred Edwards, who sold it in 1850 and bought it 20 years later for his daughter, Ella, and her husband. The church bought the house in 1954 and used it as a parsonage until 2004.

Rather than preserve its history, church leaders want to raze the parsonage and put a parking lot in its place. But because the parsonage lies in a historic district, the village has final say over what happens to the property and the village board has blocked the church's move to demolish it.

Village leaders later tried to partner with the church to save the parsonage but the church was unresponsive.

This weeks's court action follows an order of correction the village issued to the church about the parsonage on July 3.

The order outlined 14 code violations at the parsonage, and in it the village ordered the church to correct the violations with 45 days from the date of the notice, or else it would face fines.

Cavallaro says the church hasn't lifted a finger to do anything, except devise solutions that "have a number of strings attached that make a compromised solution to the preservation of the property very complicated or unreasonable," he said.

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