At its regular meeting Tuesday, April 13, the Homewood Board of Trustees will consider an ordinance to disconnect the property known as Calumet Country Club from the village, a move the village has fought against since the summer of 2019.
The vote is required by a settlement agreement trustees approved on Jan. 26 in an attempt to keep the property within the village boundaries. The new owner of the property, an Arizona-based real estate firm, has plans to replace the golf course with a warehousing center.
The agreement required the village to approve zoning changes that would have enabled industrial use of the property, currently zoned for open land uses. Trustees voted down the rezoning ordinances at their March 9 meeting.
The lawsuit seeking to disconnect the property from Homewood was initiated by the previous owners of the club, CCC Investors LLC, in July 2019 after village officials refused to endorse the warehousing center plan.
The Arizona developer, Diversified Partners/W&E Ventures, inherited the suit when it completed the purchase of the property late last year.
A group of five Homewood residents is also part of the suit after petitioning the court to intervene as defendants along with the village. The residents — Liz Varmecky, Casey Kueltzo, Danielle Nolen-Ragland, Kathy Jakubowksi and Car Notorangelo — are associated with South Suburbs for Greenspace Over Concrete (SSGOC), an organization that formed to fight against the redevelopment plan.
Patrick Keating, the attorney representing the residents, argued in a memo to the village and to representatives of W&E Ventures that the village could not comply with the requirement to disconnect the property now that his clients are party to the suit. Keating said the addition of residents as defendants essentially voided the settlement agreement between the village and W&E Ventures and warned both parties against moving forward with its provisions.
Village Attorney Chris Cummings filed an emergency motion in Cook County Circuit Court, seeking clarification from Judge Maureen Ward Kirby on whether the settlement agreement was voided, or whether the village's obligations remained in effect. He noted that the village was in a dilemma, facing the possibility of sanctions from two sides, the developer and its co-defendants.
According to court documents provided by the village, Kirby issued a ruling on April 6 that established the settlement agreement and the village's obligations remain in effect. A status hearing on the disconnect suit is set for April 23.
SSGOC issued a statement on its social media page on Thursday urging trustees to vote against the disconnect measure, while acknowledging the village would likely pay a penalty for violating the terms of the settlement agreement. The organization wants to see the disconnect suit go to trial and noted that the vote Tuesday could thwart that effort.
Cummings stated in a memo to the Board of Trustees dated April 9 that Illinois law favors property owners in disconnect cases and the village is not likely to prevail if the matter goes to trial.
In other business on Tuesday, trustees will hear a presentation on the proposed fiscal year 2021-22 budget.
Trustees will also consider:
- A resolution of intergovernmental cooperation between the village and Hazel Crest regarding the redevelopment of Calumet Country Club.
- Purchase of a two-ton asphalt dump trailer.
- A raffle license for Glenwood Academy.
- A Motor Fuel Tax appropriation for street milling and patching.
- A contract renewal for labor law legal services.
- A budget amendment for Washington Park Plaza sales tax incentives to account for actual sales tax performance last year.
- An ordinance suspending outdoor liquor license requirements to encourage outdoor food and liquor service during the pandemic.
- An ordinance rebating liquor license fees to aid local businesses hit hard by the pandemic.
- Reappointments to various village committees and commissions.
The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. and will be conducted virtually via Zoom.
Anyone can submit written comments to the trustees by email at [email protected] or by leaving written comments in the dropbox in front of the village hall. All comments received by 4 p.m. Tuesday will be distributed to all trustees.
To access the meeting:
- Dial-in only: (312) 626-6799.
- Zoom: go to zoom.us, click “Join a Meeting.”
- Meeting I.D.: 961 6038 1330.
- Meeting Password: 292 310.