Elk Grove Village trustees agree Gullo properties can stay outside village, with caveats

  • George Gullo Development Corp. and neighboring properties it controls along Higgins Road will remain unincorporated for now, under terms of a tentative settlement approved Tuesday by the Elk Grove Village board. But the deal also calls for Gullo to ink a pre-annexation agreement with the village.

      George Gullo Development Corp. and neighboring properties it controls along Higgins Road will remain unincorporated for now, under terms of a tentative settlement approved Tuesday by the Elk Grove Village board. But the deal also calls for Gullo to ink a pre-annexation agreement with the village. Christopher Placek | Staff Photographer, October 2019

 
 
Updated 12/9/2020 6:04 PM

Seven properties along Higgins Road controlled by developer Mario Gullo will remain unincorporated and not subject to Elk Grove Village's ordinances, under terms of a settlement approved Tuesday night by village trustees.

But the settlement, still pending final approval by the parties and review by a Cook County judge, also requires the president of George Gullo Development Corp. to ink a pre-annexation agreement that would bind his properties to Elk Grove Village should he voluntarily seek annexation over the next two decades, village officials said.

 

"They can continue what they're doing and we don't have to worry about their properties going to another town," Mayor Craig Johnson said after the board meeting. "I'm very happy with this settlement. It's a win-win for both parties."

The village board's 5-0 vote, with one abstention, is a key decision toward resolving a legal dispute spanning nearly two years after the village tried to forcibly annex 58 acres along Higgins and Gullo filed suit in an attempt to block it. Village Trustee Stephen Schmidt, whose wife works for a Gullo relative, abstained from the vote.

Kim Walberg, Gullo's attorney, released a statement Wednesday morning after the village board vote.

"We are pleased that this two-year-long legal battle with the village has been resolved on mutually beneficial terms," Walberg wrote. "We look forward to an amicable relationship with the village from this point on."

Word of a possible resolution comes just days before Judge Raymond Mitchell was set to rule on the village's motion for judgment -- the latest in a long line of court filings since February 2019. But lawyers from both sides continued to talk behind closed doors in recent weeks.

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Those conversations included powerful legal brass with political clout who Elk Grove enlisted this summer: Michael Kasper, a prominent lobbyist, election attorney and longtime lawyer for House Speaker Michael Madigan, and the Berwyn-based Del Galdo Law Group.

The agreement also calls on the village to disconnect from a separate 41-acre parcel owned by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. Walberg has previously argued that the village's attempt to forcibly annex Gullo's property was improper because it was preceded by a "sham" annexation of the water district land.

Gullo and the village have also agreed not to disparage each other through Dec. 1, 2024 -- and the agreement also contains some non-boilerplate language related to the flurry of anonymous anti-Johnson robocalls, mailers and billboards that came about last year during a bitter term limits referendum campaign. Johnson publicly accused Gullo of working behind the scenes to support the effort, but Gullo denied any involvement.

Under the agreement, if Gullo disparages Johnson during the next four years -- including via robocall, mailer, billboard or social media post -- and it's proven before a mutually agreed upon retired judge, the village can restart its annexation efforts.

And if any third party during the next year levels additional anti-Johnson communications, Gullo will be required to issue a published public statement condemning those.

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