Attorneys for South Barrington Park District, church tell judge they want to complete land sale

Attorneys for the South Barrington Park District and a church trying to buy 34 acres of park district land said Tuesday they want to move ahead with that deal despite legal action being taken by local residents.

But the lawyer for the residents trying to stop the sale gave no indication during a brief discussion before Cook County Judge Claire J. Quish that his clients are willing to relent.

Rather, plaintiffs' attorney Mohit Khare requested - and got - more time to amend the complaint and a request for a temporary restraining order that aims to quash the sale. Changes could include dropping the village of South Barrington from the complaint, attorneys indicated.

The Plymouth Brethren Christian Church wants to buy the land, which is south of where Bartlett Road and Route 59 meet, for about $1.7 million. The property sometimes is called "Area N."

Church representatives have said they intend to erect a house of worship and a school on the property, which is just north of the Woods of South Barrington neighborhood.

During Tuesday morning's virtual court appearance, attorneys identified the prospective buyer as a Maywood nonprofit called the Fourth Avenue Gospel Building.

Illinois secretary of state records indicate Fourth Avenue Gospel Building incorporated in 1972 and uses Plymouth Brethren Christian Church as an assumed name.

Reached later via phone, Fourth Avenue Gospel Building attorney Noel Sterett declined to comment on the relationship between his stated client and the Plymouth Brethren church.

South Barrington voters in April approved a plan to sell the site at auction. The church was the only bidder at the May auction.

Residents have spoken against the deal at recent park district and village board meetings. They're concerned about the ecological impact of the proposed development, the conversion of the land into private property, traffic and other issues.

Some have criticized Plymouth Brethren practices.

The residents' legal complaint - targeting the church, the park district and the village - was filed last week.

The complaint alleges the referendum question contained incorrect statements. It also alleges park district officials tried to hide the identity of the prospective buyer, among other issues.

Tuesday's court appearance before Quish was the case's first.

Scott Puma, the park district's attorney, said his client is "ready, willing and able" to close the sale.

"We need this to move along," Puma said. "We need to litigate and get it over with."

Sterett said his client wants to proceed with the sale, too. He called the complaint "baseless."

After some discussion, Quish said she'll hold a status update on the case Sept. 15.

The park district board will hold a special closed-door meeting tonight to discuss litigation and other matters. It's set for 7:15 p.m. at the South Barrington Community Center, 3 Tennis Club Lane.

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Proposed sale of South Barrington Park District land to church is headed to court

A church's proposal to build a facility in South Barrington is drawing opposition from some area residents. Courtesy of South Barrington
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