Five Homewood residents ask legal permission to join redevelopment lawsuit

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Five Homewood residents ask legal permission to join redevelopment lawsuit

March 12, 2021 - 21:06
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Five Homewood residents who are part of a group fighting the redevelopment of a former golf course announced Friday morning that they filed a petition to join the village as defendants in a lawsuit over the site’s future.

Citizen action group South Suburbs for Greenspace Over Concrete hosted a press conference at Izaak Walton Nature Preserve, identifying Liz Varmecky, Casey Kueltzo, Danielle Nolen-Ragland, Kathy Jakubowksi and Car Notorangelo as the residents who are asking the court to add them to the lawsuit.

On Friday, five Homewood residents announcing their legal motion to be included as defendants in a lawsuit regarding the redevelopment of Calumet Country Club, including Liz Varmecky, from left, Casey Kueltzo and Danielle Nolen-Ragland. Assisting them is attorney Patrick Keating. (Carole Sharwarko/H-F Chronicle)

“We’re joining as defendants because Homewood needs help defending itself from outside interests, and we’re ready to offer that assistance,” Varmecky told the crowd.

Attorney Patrick Keating is representing the residents in their motion and said as part of a statute relevant to the case, they are allowed to petition the court for inclusion in the lawsuit as village taxpayers.

The defendants and Keating are calling into question a settlement agreement made between the village of Homewood and Diversified Partners, the company looking to convert about 115 acres of green space into a site for limited manufacturing use.

Calling it “the worst I have ever seen,” Keating said the settlement agreement stemmed from the developer’s original lawsuit to disconnect from the village. When trustees recently voted against the company’s rezoning requests, Keating said that move effectively nullified the settlement agreement. 

Homewood spokeswoman Jennifer Quirke declined to comment on the village’s behalf, citing the ongoing nature of the litigation.

This action by the village, Keating said, now calls the settlement agreement into question. Depending on how the court interprets the most recent developments, the case likely will default back to the original disconnection lawsuit. 

If Diversified Partners’ leadership moves forward with its petition to disconnect from Homewood, its next step may be to pursue unincorporated status within Cook County. 

With a lack of municipal partners willing to tie the property in with local infrastructure, the property could be rendered “unmarketable,” Keating said, as tenants would have to dig wells and develop their own systems.

Before any of this could happen, however, the developer would have to navigate the Cook County zoning and permit approval processes.

Keating said Cook County officials generally want to minimize the amount of unincorporated land it must manage, and that recent decisions have leaned toward “keeping green space green.” 

“Given the number of Cook County officials who are from the Southland, there could well be another zoning battle in front of the Cook County zoning board,” Keating said.