The village of Mount Prospect has reached a settlement with the owner of Ye Olde Town Inn, who accused officials and a local development company of conspiring to seize his land and move forward with a redevelopment plan without him.
The agreement, reached over the Fourth of July weekend, came just before a federal civil racketeering trial was to begin Monday.
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Tod Curtis, owner of the business at 18 W. Busse Ave. in downtown Mount Prospect, filed the suit in 2008 against then-Mayor Irvana Wilks, several village employees and local developer and dentist Errol Oztekin.
Curtis alleged they formed an "ongoing enterprise and scheme" for nearly a decade to drive him out. He also charged village officials with "endless harassing inspections of the property" in retaliation for comments he made to local media and allowing Oztekin's Blues Bar to be built next door, even though they knew it would damage the Inn because the establishments share a wall.
Village officials repeatedly denied the claims. Wilks and Village Manager Michael Janonis could not be reached for comment Monday.
Opening statements in the jury trial were scheduled to begin Monday, but attorneys for both sides announced in court that they verbally came to terms on an agreement. Both sides declined to comment on the terms of the settlement.
After the court hearing, Curtis thanked those who have supported his business the last 46 years, and said he plans to stay put.
"I plan to be there making pizzas for the next 40 years," he said.
His attorney, Rich Valentino, said Monday was "a good day for the people of Mount Prospect and the business community."
Curtis said his plans for redeveloping the triangle piece of property at 6-18 W. Busse Ave. are still on the table. His plan, called Gateway Centre of Mount Prospect, calls for six stories of residential units above street-level storefronts that would include Ye Olde Town Inn, Karma Hair and Nail, Hour Time Jewelry and The Training Ground Athletic Performance Center.
Those plans are pending before the village.
The village sought to take Curtis' property via eminent domain in 2008 as part of a downtown redevelopment effort but later dropped the suit in 2010 in the midst of a struggling real estate market.
In 2011, a Cook County judge awarded Curtis $965,000 after he sued Oztekin's company, Oz Development, for damaging a wall on his building while developing the Blues Bar next door.
Negotiations over a settlement took place over the course of nearly 20 meetings that began last month, said Ric Di Monte, who also served as one of Curtis' attorneys. U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Rowland assisted both parties in coming to the out-of-court agreement, working with them through the holiday weekend.
Village Attorney Buzz Hill said the agreement still needs to be ratified by the village board, with whom he already has consulted in a closed session meeting.
"I know I have a majority who are in favor of it," Hill told U.S. District Court Judge John Lee.
The agreement must also be approved by the village's insurance carrier, High Excess Liability Protection.
Attorneys said in court those approvals are expected within the next 30 days. Lee said if approvals are not granted in that time frame, either side could move to reinstate the case.
Each side was ordered to pay the court $1,050 because a jury was assembled but never had to hear the case. Attorneys estimated the trial could have lasted up to a month.