Homewood officials: Retaining Calumet Country Club will be difficult

Residents take turns addressing the board with questions about the village's options for heading off the proposed development of a commercial fulfillment center at Calumet Country Club. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
Residents take turns asking the board questions about the
 village's options for heading off the proposed development
of a commercial fulfillment center at Calumet Country Club.

 (Photos by Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
 
The ongoing battle over Calumet Country Club hasn't been easy and it won't find a simple conclusion. That was the message Homewood officials provided to about 100 residents at a special meeting Wednesday night held to address the latest updates about attempts to disconnect the property from the village.

 

“It’s our intention, if at all possible, to keep this property in the village of Homewood,” Village Attorney Chris Cummings said during the meeting at H-F Park District Auditorium.

“The problem is, if the disconnection is successful, then the village of Homewood will have zero say as to what goes on with that property in the future. We may not like what they’re proposing now but we may like even less what ends up going there if it leaves the village.” 

Homewood Village Attorney Chris Cummings answers a resident's question during a special board meeting Wednesday to update the community about the proposed redevelopment of Calumet Country Club. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
  Homewood Village Attorney
  Chris Cummings answers a
  resident's question during a
  special board meeting
  Wednesday to update the
  community about the proposed
  redevelopment of Calumet
  Country Club. 

 

 
Attorneys for the club’s owners served Homewood with a lawsuit last month to disconnect, or secede, from Homewood. Most of the property is within Homewood borders but a portion is in Hazel Crest, to which the property owners would likely seek annexation. 
 
Arizona-based real estate developer Diversified Partners proposed a warehouse distribution center for the site. Homewood wants the site to be retail. Residents in the nearby Governor’s Park neighborhood would like to see it remain a golf course or some other sort of green space. Talks between the village and developer stalled in the spring, leading to the lawsuit aimed at leaving Homewood. 
 
Cummings said the village plans to subpoena the contract between Diversified Partners and Calumet Country Club as part of the discovery process during the suit’s court proceedings. Homewood wants to know the terms and when it was signed.

Homewood Mayor Richard Hofeld, left, assures residents at a special board meeting Wednesday that the village will contest the attempt to annex Calumet Country Club from the village.
  Homewood Mayor Richard
  Hofeld assures residents that
  the village will contest the
  attempt to annex Calumet
  Country Club from the village.

 

 
The village will also ask for any records of communication between Calumet Country Club or Diversified Partners and Hazel Crest.
 
“I don’t want to sugar coat or give anybody false hopes,” Cummings said. “The statute that’s out there is very pro-property owner.”
 
Homewood met with representatives of the club’s owners in August and were led to believe that an offer could be made to buy the property, Mayor Richard Hofeld said. The village board met in executive session and agreed to make an offer of around $3.2 million, which Cummings said the village was told was the purchase price. 
 
Homewood was told that Diversified partners would settle for $17.5 million, Cummings said. 
 
  Click above to see the 
  text of the disconnect 
  petition filed by the owners
  of Calumet Country Club.

 
“They’re going to try to push as hard as possible to get this done as soon as possible. We’re going to make sure that they touch every base,” Cummings said. “We need to be able to make an informed decision.”
 
Hofeld encouraged residents to put pressure on Hazel Crest Mayor Vernard Alsberry Jr. and that village’s board. When the two mayors last spoke, Alsberry told Hofeld that Hazel Crest would “remain neutral,” according to Hofeld.
 
“Our best hope is to say to Hazel Crest, ‘Stand with us,’” Hofeld said. “It’s an opportunity to be (good neighbors). I know what we would do.” 
 
Homewood could also explore acquiring the land via eminent domain, Cumming said, which would force the owners to sell the land to the village. But the process would be left up to a jury and could be exceedingly expensive.
 
Steve Wlodarski said he lives across the street from Calumet Country Club’s driving range. He spoke during the public comment portion and was passing out papers to other residents after the meeting with the names and email addresses of elected officials. Wlodarski said he plans to write them and urge them to support Homewood.
 
“We just don’t want 300 trucks rolling up and down the streets of Homewood, Flossmoor, Hazel Crest, East Hazel Crest because of the air pollution, the noise pollution, the traffic,” he said. “Anybody that I’ve talked to is not in favor of a heavy-traffic, heavy industrial use (for the property).” 
 
Wlodarski said he plans to help canvas both Homewood and Hazel Crest to build support. He’d like to see residents formally oppose the development.
 
“It’d be nice but I’m not the one who could do (lead the group),” he said. “There’s a little talk with some people who are maybe more familiar with that about how we maybe could form a group.” 
 

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