Court allows annexation challenge
Thursday, May 12, 2016
by Dermot Connolly
Palos Park officials are confident that a court petition that threatens to undo the village’s recent annexation of four properties, including Cog Hill and Gleneagles golf courses, will ultimately fail.
But the threat is still alive in the Cook County Circuit Court after Judge Carol Kipperman at a preliminary hearing on April 21 rejected several objections to the petition filed by the village of Palos Park, and allowed the matter to move ahead.
In addition to Cog Hill Golf & Country Club and Gleneagles Country Club, the other properties that Palos Park annexed in January at the request of the landowners were Mid-Iron Club and Ludwig Farm.
After several years of discussions, the annexation process was sped up because in December, eight property owners in the Sun Hill subdivision south of McCarthy Road and west of Bell Road filed a petition in Cook County Court seeking annexation to Lemont.
The problem for Palos Park is that in addition to the seven acres of their subdivision, the Sun Hill residents are seeking to annex 110 acres of Gleneagles Country Club, which would provide the necessary contiguity with Lemont. This is being done against the will of the McNulty family, who own Gleneagles and sought the Palos Park annexation.
Palos Park Village Manager Rick Boehm pointed out that a McNulty family home located in the middle of the section of Gleneagles being sought for Lemont was left out of the annexation plan.
“The village of Lemont has gone far afield in its efforts to annex 110 acres,” he said.
The discovery process in the legal battle is now underway, with depositions being taken. Boehm said that while an evidentiary hearing is scheduled for June 22, the matter likely won’t be decided for several more months.
“We are very confident that that this petition will ultimately be thrown out,” said Boehm. “If it is approved it would be very surprising.”
The Sun Hill petition argues that Palos Park abandoned the petition from the owners to annex the four properties, which was filed a year ago.
“The village of Palos Park has been working with these four property owners for a very long time,” he said. “They have wanted to become part of Palos Park for years.’
“Under what right do people get to take your property tax rights?” he wondered.
He noted that although state law allows a municipality to annex up to 60 acres of adjacent property, with proper notification, even if the owners object, the larger amount of property involved in this case meant it has to be decided in court.
In the meantime, while the annexation argument goes on, Boehm said the four properties have been fully absorbed into Palos Park.
“Palos Park police are patrolling the properties, and we are working on extending water and sewer services,” he said.