Glen Ellyn Montessori school, neighbors settle suit
A two-and-a-half-year legal dispute between neighbors and owners of a Glen Ellyn Montessori school has been settled out of court.
In 2009, 14 residents who live near the Diamante Montessori school, 625 Hillside Ave., filed suit against the school's owners, Ron and Elizabeth Repking, who neighbors said violated a law prohibiting construction from encroaching on a neighbor's property. The village also was named a defendant in the suit because neighbors maintained their due process rights were violated when a special use permit for the school was approved.
The village wasn't a party to the out-of-court settlement, though the neighbors agreed to drop their suit against both the village and the Repkings, Village President Mark Pfefferman said.
"This is good news for the village taxpayers who have spent over $100,000 on this case, as well as the other parties who appear to have found a way to coexist in the neighborhood," Pfefferman said in a statement.
The plan commission and village board granted the zoning approvals when the school was moving two blocks from St. Mark's Church, 393 E. Main St., to its current location. Neighbors who attended village meetings argued the school would lead to increased traffic in the neighborhood that could hinder safety.
Terms of the settlement weren't disclosed, with both sides indicating they were extending an olive branch to the other.
"The parties had the foresight to view this neighborhood as a community effort," said attorney Steve Ruffalo, who represented neighbors around the school. "To put aside their differences and attempt to work together to create a sense of community -- to me that's the upside of this thing. We can't always agree ... but we can act professionally and can respect each other's property rights."
School owner Ron Repking said he didn't anticipate the extent of resistance to his move to the new site, which used to house Christ Church. The school has been around for 10 years at a total of five locations.
"When we moved to St. Mark's, at that time there was no issue. It was a simple hearing and simple process that got us approval," Repking said. "I figured when we moved two blocks away, the process would be the same."
At the time of plan commission proceedings, residents were upset they weren't allowed to cross examine the property owners, Ruffalo said, but that process is now allowed.
Village officials maintained they followed the proper procedures.
Repking said he's happy the legal wrangling is over.
"I wouldn't say there's any bad contentious feeling back and forth," Repking said. "What's in the past is in the past, and we're moving forward."