Avon Township trustees say supervisor jumped the gun on home purchase

  • Avon Township is holding a special town meeting Monday to discuss the purchase last summer of a vacant house at 320 Bellevue Drive in Round Lake Park.

      Avon Township is holding a special town meeting Monday to discuss the purchase last summer of a vacant house at 320 Bellevue Drive in Round Lake Park. Mick Zawislak | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted1/10/2020 5:33 AM

Issues surrounding Avon Township Supervisor Terry Wilke's purchase of a vacant house last summer on behalf of the township have resurfaced and will be discussed Monday at a special meeting.

Whether the township should be able to buy, sell or lease property for up to a year without having to call a town meeting also will be discussed at the session beginning at 6 p.m. at the township office, 433 E. Washington St., Round Lake Park.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Some township board members question whether the purchase of the house at 320 Bellevue Drive in Round Lake Park should have been presented and approved at a special town meeting. At those meetings, residents, who are called electors, can vote and essentially tell the board what to do.

The concern by some trustees is the purchase was made without elector or board approval, which they say is required under state law.

While well after the fact, possible actions Monday could validate the transaction or direct Wilke to get rid of the 1,082-square-foot house.

Wilke said a township neighborhood revitalization program had been discussed at the board level at various times. He said he acted when the Bellevue Drive house went through the tax sale process and eventually reverted to Lake County, which put it in its "green book" of available properties.

Wilke said he secured a grant and bought the property in July for $1.

"We were developing the program anyway. This is a property that's been abandoned since 2012," he said.

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The idea, similar to ongoing programs in the village and neighboring Round Lake Beach, is to boost neighborhoods by improving rundown houses and inspiring neighbors to fix up their properties.

"We were specifically looking to take the worst house," Wilke said. He said the intent was to rehab the house and make it available to rent.

But some township trustees say there was a lack of communication regarding the revitalization program and a financial plan regarding the property, and the purchase and related matters were surprises.

"My concern is we're going about this without planning, without truly understanding what the financial cost will be," township Trustee Steven Vaughn said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Wilke disagreed, saying documents have been provided and discussions regarding the program and plan for this house have been ongoing.

According to minutes of the Nov. 18 meeting, township attorney David Weinstein said there are differences in the interpretation of state law. Many entities make it common practice to buy property via a town meeting, he said, but the issue is moot in this case.

At that point, Trustee Michele Bauman said she felt there should be a town meeting regarding 320 Bellevue Drive.

Her motion to do so was approved 3-0 with Wilke in agreement. Two trustees, including Vaughn, were absent.

In a subsequent item, Bauman said Wilke applied for a loan to fix the property without board approval. Wilke disagreed and the loan was rejected by a 2-1 vote.

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