Libertyville to continue court fight with archdiocese
Libertyville plans to continue its legal fight against the Archdiocese of Chicago over a proposed residential development on property the church owns west of Butterfield Road.
"Let's hope that the filing of a legal motion will get some sort of traction," Trustee Donna Johnson said Tuesday before the village board voted 6-0 to challenge a ruling against the village last month. "It's something definitely we need to pursue."
On Feb. 15, Lake County Judge Michael J. Fusz ruled that the village was "unreasonable and arbitrary" when it denied plans in 2017 for the 148-home Oak Trails subdivision on archdiocese property south of Lake Street.
Roanoke Group LLC had a contract to buy the long-vacant land from the archdiocese for $15 million, contingent on village approvals for the subdivision.
The archdiocese sued about three months after village officials rejected the plan, citing traffic and safety issues.
Mayor Terry Weppler, a retired attorney, on Wednesday said the village's decisions were not arbitrary and believed the ruling was wrong because factors considered in the case were not before the village board when it made its decisions.
Libertyville so far has spent about $145,000 defending the case.
"We heard from our residents and they want us to continue with this," he said.
Weppler said he has been stymied in attempts to discuss the matter with the archdiocese out of court, but will try again.
"Every attempt I've made to reach out has been basically (met with) silence," he said.
The archdiocese believes Fusz' decision was thorough, thoughtful and appropriate, Anne Maselli, its director of communications and marketing said Thursday.
The archdiocese "has always indicated a willingness" to discuss concerns with village officials to reach a mutually acceptable way to develop the property, she said.
"Vacant property, such as the one being discussed, benefits neither the church nor the community," Maselli added. "We look forward to proceeding with a development plan that is respectful of the neighborhood and can contribute many important benefits to the community while supporting the church and its mission."