District 220 lawsuit against Hoffman Estates, Plum Farms developers dismissed

Barrington Unit District 220's lawsuit against Hoffman Estates and the developers of the stalled Plum Farms proposal at the northwest corner of routes 59 and 72 has been dismissed by a Cook County circuit court judge.

But the question of how much that lawsuit had to do with the residential and commercial project's idleness for the past 2½ years has yet to be answered.

Members of the Plum Farms development partnership did not respond to a request for comment, and Hoffman Estates officials said they haven't heard from them, either, since the lawsuit's dismissal on Monday.

As proposed, Plum Farms would include single-family homes on 145 acres previously disconnected from Barrington Hills. The remainder of the land would combine multifamily housing and commercial development.

Hoffman Estates' development agreement limits Plum Farms to 1,250 dwelling units of various types, but the most recent plan submitted by the developer calls for only 1,035.

The last trace of progress on Plum Farms was interrupted by the filing of a lawsuit in July 2017 by residents of the nearby Regency at the Woods of South Barrington retirement community.

District 220 intervened in the suit on the side of the residents, with both the developers and village named as defendants. The density of the proposed development and the potential for additional students' costs to exceed the increase in tax revenue is at the heart of the school district's concerns.

Though the residents' original lawsuit was ultimately settled, District 220's concerns kept its part of the case active until this week's dismissal.

Citing the case of Hinckley-Big Rock School District vs. Village of Sugar Grove, the judge this week ruled that District 220 did not and could not plead a "direct, substantial, and adverse effect," Hoffman Estates Assistant Corporation Counsel Patti Cross said.

District 220 Superintendent Brian Harris said the board of education discussed the dismissal in closed session on Tuesday night and expects to announce its decision Jan. 14 on whether or how to proceed with further legal action.

The district could choose to file a motion for reconsideration, file a notice of appeal or let the judge's ruling lie.

"Obviously we do have options," Harris said. "We had significant concerns about the zoning."

To some degree, Hoffman Estates officials have themselves moved on from the Plum Farms proposal to another potential project, recommending a tax increment financing district for 64 acres around the northeast and northwest corners of Route 72 and Old Sutton Road that would fund utilities for hoped-for commercial development there.

The village board plans to vote on the proposed TIF district Jan. 6. Earlier this month, Mayor Bill McLeod cast the sole dissenting vote on the tax incentive because he believes it to be premature without a specific development plan in place.

Village officials have said potential development there could include a gas station and convenience store along Old Sutton, 100,000 square feet of self-storage along the CN Railroad tracks, and a 150,000-square-foot retail center.

A TIF district freezes the amount of property taxes local governments receive at the level of the first year. As taxes gradually rise, the increases go to a municipally held fund to pay for public improvements within the district.

This proposed TIF district lies entirely within Community Unit District 300, while the residential pieces of the Plum Farms proposal that District 220 has jurisdiction over lie farther north.

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Hoffman Estates sets meetings for input on proposed TIF district

Hoffman Estates panel supports incentive to spur growth at corners

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