Lake in the Hills, Crystal Lake Park District haggling over details of annexation agreement

An annexation agreement that, if approved, would allow for the development of a recreation center and aquatic center on Ackman Road is taking a little longer than expected to be finalized.

Staff from the Village of Lake in the Hills village and the Crystal Lake Park District are still discussing details of the agreement. A vote by the Village Board on the agreement to annex 27 acres at 8917 Ackman Road into the municipality was expected to come on Thursday, but has been delayed.

"The issues are not insurmountable and I am confident we will come to an agreement to resolve them," Village Administrator Gerald Sagona wrote in an email to the Northwest Herald.

In a letter from the park district to the village, the park district has concerns over a proposed requirement to provide the Village Board with development plans in the future, and the requirement for a letter of credit.

Park District Executive Director Jason Herbster said the issues are relatively minor and he is confident both parties can work through them at the staff level.

The proposed annexation agreement calls for the park district returning to the Village Board and Planning and Zoning Commission in the future to review actual development plans when they are prepared.

"The sole purpose of the return to these two boards would be for a determination as to whether there was compliance with ordinances, which is a ministerial function, which should be done by staff not by policy makers of the village," wrote park district attorney Scott Puma. "[I]t is an unnecessary step. Further, there is no requirement for public hearing or the like under the village code, and it is an onerous process."

In a written response, village attorney Michael Smoron said there would be no additional public hearing, but there is an expectation from the Village Board and zoning commission that plans would be reviewed by both entities because the property could become busier.

"The board is placing emphasis on this extra step to help alleviate concerns by our residents regarding the future use of the property," Smoron wrote.

The park district also does not want to have to provide a letter of credit to the village for offsite public improvements, as it would unnecessarily increase costs, Puma wrote.

Puma wrote that the park district has completed projects in Lakewood and Crystal Lake and letters of credit were not required.

"The park district is not going anywhere and the public improvements will be included in plans and bonded for under the Public Construction Bond Act already," Puma wrote.

The village said that it is not under the impression that a public bond would cover damage to offsite property, such as a water main or a resident's yard.

"The village would prefer a letter of credit rather than having to make a claim against the bond and, possibly, becoming embroiled in any litigation with contractors or subcontractors," Smoron wrote.

The park district also is asking that it have the ability to disconnect the property from the village in case it needs to obtain water from another municipality in the future.

"We do not expect this provision to ever come into play, but it would be necessary if Lake in the Hills lacks sufficient water," Puma said.

Smoron said the disconnection language is unacceptable.

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