Lakemoor removes red light cameras for construction; lawsuit remains active

Lakemoor construction project prompts change; lawsuit ongoing

The village of Lakemoor has removed its red-light cameras, but drivers might not be in the clear for good.

Lakemoor officials said they removed the cameras because of a construction project, and the devices could go back up.

The village is facing an ongoing lawsuit related to the cameras, which have generated millions in revenue toward Lakemoor’s budget.

“We have a major [Illinois Department of Transportation] project, and cameras aren’t allowed during construction,” Lakemoor Mayor Todd Weihofen said. “We will re-evaluate the need for the cameras once we see how the intersection lays out. … Hopefully it will be safer once improvements are made.”

Lakemoor is one of only two McHenry County municipalities to use red-light cameras. Fox River Grove has the last remaining intersection with cameras at Routes 12 and 14. Lake in the Hills and Algonquin both shut down red-light camera programs in 2016.

The programs are set up to improve safety, but they also generate revenue. Lakemoor has collected $3.6 million since January 2016 in violation fines, according to records provided by the village under a Freedom of Information Act request.

That revenue came from 56,904 violations at Routes 12 and 120 in Lakemoor.

Lakemoor also is in the midst of a class-action lawsuit that alleges the red-light notices aren’t valid because the tickets don’t reference the ordinance allegedly violated.

Weihofen said he is confident the case will be tossed.

“We are positive we will prevail,” he said. “They are trying to come up with a technicality that isn’t really there.”

The two people named in the class-action suit – Brian Knutson and Heather Bendl – received tickets in 2014 and 2012, respectively. The two paid the fines and didn’t take advantage of opportunities to challenge the tickets, according to court documents filed by the village.

“Plaintiffs were afforded a hearing, but neither plaintiff availed him or herself of that process,” court documents filed by the village’s legal representation read. “Thus, no viable due process claim exists.”

Knutson didn’t challenge the citation at a hearing and paid the ticket. Bendl’s fine and late fees ultimately were taken out of her Illinois tax refund, according to court documents.

Lakemoor also claims that the statute of limitations has passed.

Weihofen called the case a publicity stunt.

Chicago-based Roth Fioretti LLC is representing the group of motorists, and one of its lawyers, Bob Fioretti, is a former Chicago alderman who recently ran for Cook County Board president. Fioretti lost to incumbent Toni Preckwinkle in the March primary.

Mark Roth, who is handling the Lakemoor case for the firm, said there is no political aim in the suit.

“Bob Fioretti is not involved in the lawsuit. He was running for Cook County Board president, which has nothing to do with Lake County or McHenry County,” he said. “Far from a political stunt, the lawsuit has merit, and we expect to prevail.”

Red-light cameras have faced scrutiny in many areas, including McHenry County.

In 2016, state Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, sponsored a bill to ban the cameras in communities that weren’t home rule, which would have included Lakemoor. House Bill 141 died in the House in 2017.

Construction will be ongoing at Routes 12 and 120 in Lakemoor through next spring.

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