Elk Grove Village annexation dispute will carry on after term limits vote

  • George Gullo Development Corp.'s lawsuit over Elk Grove Village's attempt to annex properties the company owns along Higgins Road is expected to continue beyond an upcoming March 17 term limits referendum.

      George Gullo Development Corp.'s lawsuit over Elk Grove Village's attempt to annex properties the company owns along Higgins Road is expected to continue beyond an upcoming March 17 term limits referendum. Christopher Placek | Staff Photographer, 2019

 
 
Updated 2/19/2020 1:59 PM

Resolution of a yearlong annexation dispute that's spilled over into the campaign to impose term limits on Elk Grove Village leaders will have to wait until after the March 17 primary election.

Attorneys for the village and George Gullo Development Corp. appeared in court Wednesday morning, when they set an April 30 date to present oral arguments to a Cook County judge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The judge could rule that day on Elk Grove's request to forcibly annex Gullo's properties on Higgins Road, but it's more likely she will make a decision later, attorneys say.

Underlying the case is the ongoing term limits campaign that, if approved by voters next month, would effectively to remove longtime Mayor Craig Johnson and most village trustees next year.

Johnson and Village Attorney George Knickerbocker have publicly accused Mario Gullo, president of George Gullo Development, of working behind the scenes to support the campaign, which has included a flurry of anonymous robocalls and mailers.

Gullo has denied any involvement -- first through his attorney and then a news release Monday that marked his first public statement since filing suit against the village in February 2019.

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Gullo and village officials haven't discussed a possible out-of-court settlement since the fall, while attorneys for the two sides have continued to file briefs supporting their legal arguments.

Gullo's attorneys have argued the village's attempt in 2018 to forcibly annex 58 acres was improper because it was preceded by a voluntary annexation of a separate 41-acre parcel owned by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.

In the news release issued Monday, Gullo's representatives alleged the first annexation was a "sham" that would lead to putting Gullo and others out of business.

The village's attorneys have said they were doing a routine cleanup of municipal boundaries and had a handshake deal with Gullo, wherein they agreed not to impose village codes on his gravel lots that are leased to commercial trucking and storage businesses.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Gullo attorney Kim Walberg said Wednesday that earlier settlement discussions revolved around securing a written agreement, similar to what the water district received, in which the annexed Gullo land wouldn't be subject to village rules.

But the village sought guarantees that Gullo help stop the anonymous robocalls and mailers.

"Again, I'll say we don't have any control over that in the first place, so even if we wanted to enter into that deal, we couldn't have," Walberg said. "But secondly and more importantly, that's not a proper negotiation."

Johnson has scheduled a town hall meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 26, at village hall to discuss the robocalls and mailers.

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