West Dundee, church, agree to settlement, larger case looms
West Dundee and First United Methodist Church have agreed to a settlement which forces the village to pay $5,000 in roof repairs to the church's decaying parsonage, shown here.
Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer
One battle is over and another is brewing between West Dundee and First United Methodist Church.
The village and the church agreed late Monday to a settlement that involves the village making $5,000 in roof repairs to the church's historic — but deteriorating — parsonage.
There had been debate over who would pay for the work; the church said West Dundee should cover it because the village was forcing the issue, while a village official said the church should pay because it's private property.
A judge issued an order Tuesday morning that authorizes West Dundee to begin the work, which is expected to start early next week.
But the only reason the village agreed to cover the work is because it has the option of getting the $5,000 back after the work is completed — by placing a lien on the parsonage.
"It won't be an option, it'll be done," Village Manager Joe Cavallaro said.
The parsonage, at 310 Main St., dates back to 1849 and is one of the oldest homes in the village.
The church bought the house in 1954 and used it as a parsonage until 2004. While the village wants to preserve the parsonage's history, church leaders would rather raze it and turn the property it sits on into a parking lot.
But because the parsonage lies in a historic district, the village board has final say over what happens to it. And the board has already blocked the church's attempt to demolish it.
Some village officials have accused church leaders of deliberately dragging their feet and letting the parsonage continue to decay until there's no choice but to demolish it. Thomas Sullivan, the church's attorney, rejected that notion.
"The building has been beyond the point of repair for many years," he said.
The village had been seeking an emergency motion against the church that, if granted, would have forced church leaders to do roof work and to make several other significant repairs to minimize water damage.
Sullivan said the village's demands amounted to at least $200,000, money the church doesn't have.
The village then agreed to drop its emergency motion if the church made $5,000 in repairs to the roof. But the question of who would pay for it became a sticking point until village officials realized they can try to get that money back, said John Regan, the village's attorney.
"(We) needed to clarify that the village had rights to place a lien on the property to recover the cost of the repair," Regan said.
Meanwhile, West Dundee has a larger case against the church that outlines 14 code violations at the parsonage.
"The church was disappointed that the village chose to go the litigation route and now that they have, we're prepared to go that route as well," Sullivan said. "I'm happy we were able to reach an agreement (on the emergency motion) ... with just minimal repairs being done ... at the village's expense."
Both parties are due back in court on the larger case on Feb. 19.
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