Appellate court hears Libertyville's legal fight with archdiocese
The legal fight between Libertyville and the Archdiocese of Chicago over a rejected 148-home subdivision made its way to a state appeals court last week, four years after a developer first submitted the plan to village officials.
The dispute centers on the archdiocese's long-vacant 40 acres west of Butterfield Road near Lake Street. Developer Roanoke Group LLC had a contract to buy the land for $15 million, but the deal stalled in 2017 when village officials rejected a request to rezone the property and approve plans for a subdivision there.
The archdiocese sued Libertyville, arguing that the village's decision was arbitrary. Lake County Judge Michael J. Fusz agreed in February 2019, describing decisions made by village officials as "unreasonable" and saying the subdivision is compatible with the zoning and nearby uses.
Village officials appealed Fusz's ruling, bringing the two sides before a three-judge panel of the Second District Appellate Court in Elgin.
Attorney Victor Filippini, representing the village, told the court Roanoke's proposal does not meet the standards of Libertyville's development codes.
"The plan that they presented plainly violates the subdivision ordinance," he said.
But archdiocese attorney Robert T. O'Donnell argued that village code allows for some negotiation between officials and developers.
"Not only does it allow them to do it, that's what's contemplated and expected and what occurred here," he told the panel.
The judges took the case under advisement. There is no date set on when a ruling could come down.
Roanoke's proposal mobilized neighbors opposed to the project, hundreds of whom attended public hearings to object. After 18 months of reviews, revisions and discussions, the village board on March 21, 2017, voted 6-0 against several measures that would have allowed Roanoke to proceed.
Trustees said they weren't against development but thought the plan was too dense, presented traffic and safety concerns and underestimated the impact on local schools.
The property is not currently under contract, but the archdiocese plans to sell it with the expectation it will be developed once the litigation is complete, spokeswoman Paula Waters said. Roanoke would be a candidate to complete the project, she said.