West Dundee has forwarded a proposed settlement to the attorney representing First United Methodist Church that reiterates the village's desire to save a historic, but crumbling parsonage.
Thomas Sullivan, the church's attorney, says the settlement isn't much different from where the village has stood all along and that church leadership still wants to raze the 164-year-old parsonage to create more parking spaces.
"What's being proposed is incomplete because it doesn't address if the village is prepared to be the sole funding source of any restoration expenses, and in no way does it address future maintenance costs, operating costs and ultimately, what the building is going to be used for and how it's going to be operated by some sort of a church/village joint venture," Sullivan said. "Those have been the problem issues all along."
The village and the church were in court Tuesday for a status hearing on a code violation case that the village brought against the church with respect to the parsonage on 310 Main St.
That case details 14 code violations that West Dundee wants the church leadership to correct. Sullivan has said the violations would cost at least $200,000 to rectify and that the church can't afford to address them. The church has filed a counterclaim.
If both parties agree to the settlement, the village would drop its code violation case. The goal is to reach a resolution before the next hearing date, scheduled April 16, Village Manager Joe Cavallaro said.
Under the proposed settlement, the village would:
• Work with the church on an agreement to devise a schedule to correcting the code violations.
• Provide a conceptual drawing that shows how an additional 25 parking spaces can be added to the property.
• Consider rezoning the parsonage to allow nonresidential and nonreligious use. Church officials have argued they have no use for the parsonage and this would give them a chance to use it for something other than a residence, Cavallaro said. That's consistent with what the village has done for other rezoned parcels on Main Street, he said. The village could return the parsonage to religious use at a later date.
• Help pay some of the costs to repair and re-purpose the building, but the details of that would come after an agreement to preserve the building is established.
"We've always been seeking a middle ground on this and seeking that partnership," Cavallaro said. "This is just a continuation of that effort and illustrates to the court we're trying to work toward a mutually agreeable result."
The struggle between the church and West Dundee has gone on for at least six years. The village has thwarted the church's attempts to demolish the parsonage because it lies within a historic district.
Sullivan has promised to present the settlement to the church during its board meeting in March.
Last December, the church and the village agreed to a separate settlement that involved making temporary repairs to the parsonage's roof, but they disagreed on who should pay for the work.
West Dundee ultimately paid for the repairs and Cavallaro said the village is considering putting a lien on the property to recoup $7,000, which would include the cost of the work plus attorneys fees.
Sullivan said he had no comment regarding the possible lien.