The Forest Preserve District of Cook County cannot evict the former owners of Horizon Farm in Barrington Hills, a state appeals court ruled Tuesday, citing an appeals court order from August that essentially sent the sale of the 400-acre equestrian estate back to the legal drawing board.
The land, which features four miles of trails for hikers, bicyclists and horse riders, has occasionally been open to the public since 2015.
The August order voided the sale of the property, which leaves the district with no right to evict the former owners, the court ruled Tuesday.
Richard Kirk Cannon and Meryl Squires Cannon argue the county unlawfully acquired the property through a $14.5 million foreclosure sale with BMO Harris Bank back in 2013.
The court's latest opinion reverses a previous circuit court decision to award the district possession of the property and puts the eviction issue on hold pending resolution of the foreclosure case.
"We hold that the reversal of the foreclosure judgment voids the sale of the property to the FPD," the opinion says. "If the circuit court, following trial, again awards a foreclosure judgment in favor of FPD, the court will need to hold a new foreclosure sale, and the purchaser at that sale will acquire the property owner's rights and duties under the lease with Royalty Farms (if Royalty Farms has a valid lease)."
Royalty Farms LLC consists of Meryl Squires Cannon, investors from Florida and several employees who take care of the horses at Horizon Farms, which the forest preserve decided to call Horizon Farm.
The appeals court decided in August that the circuit court misstepped when it ruled in the district's favor without letting the case go to trial.
Amcore Bank initiated foreclosure proceedings on the property back in 2009. Soon after, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. took over its assets and sold them to BMO Harris Bank. BMO Harris then sold the loan and mortgage on Horizon Farms to the forest preserve district.