Archdiocese of Chicago sues Libertyville over rejected housing plan
The Archdiocese of Chicago is taking Libertyville to court, saying a $10 million offer for property it owns in the village vanished after officials rejected a proposed 148-home single family development there.
Since a zoning change to allow residential development was denied in March by the village board, the land's proposed buyer backed out and there have been no other takers, according to the suit filed June 19 in Lake County court.
Both sides say they want to resolve the matter, but what that might entail is to be determined.
"We're going to discuss acceptable alternatives for the property," said Mayor Terry Weppler. "I'm confident we'll be able to work with them and come up with an amicable solution."
Spokeswoman Anne Maselli said the archdiocese filed the suit to "preserve its development rights" for the property on the west side of Butterfield Road, east of Pine Meadow Golf Club.
"We are committed to working with the village to resolve the matter, but were compelled to file suit within the statutory time limit to preserve our development rights under the village's current comprehensive plan," she said.
The suit involves 39.5 of the 97 acres the archdiocese has owned in Libertyville since the 1920s. It asks the court to find the current zoning arbitrary and order the village to rezone and grant other approvals that would allow residential development.
A proposal by Roanoke Group LLC to build a subdivision called Oak Trails on the site mobilized neighbors who packed lengthy public meetings to oppose the plan.
Reviews and discussions spanned 18 months before the village board on March 21 voted 6-0 against several measures Roanoke needed to proceed. Trustees at the time said they were not against development but thought the plan was too dense, presented safety and traffic concerns and underestimated the impact on schools, among other observations.
Such concerns were unfounded, according to the archdiocese's lawsuit.
The archdiocese argues the property's value has been "severely diminished" and the uses are limited because of its institutional building zoning classification, which does not permit homes.
In July 2014, Roanoke entered into a contract to purchase the property for "in excess of $10 million" subject to village approval of its project.
The archdiocese says village officials acknowledged the institutional zoning for the 33 northern acres was "inappropriate" and modified the comprehensive plan to allow for a mix of as many as 191 homes there -- more than proposed by Roanoke.
The comprehensive plan is a guideline, village officials have said, and specific action is needed to change zoning.
Along with other options, the archdiocese is considering annexing the property into Mundelein to consolidate it with the remainder of the Mundelein Seminary land, Maselli said.