A settlement agreement that would see the Lake in the Hills Sanitary District recover only $45,000 from a $100,000 deposit from a failed land acquisition was unanimously approved by the district board Thursday.
In June 2017, the district entered into a sales contract with the seller, Ronald Rosati, and Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate to buy about 13.88 acres of land in Kane County.
Pursuant to the agreement, the district paid $100,000 to Coldwell Banker as a deposit. Ultimately, the transaction did not close because of disputes between the parties and the rights to the deposit money were in question, according to the settlement agreement.
Under the terms of the agreement, the sanitary district would receive $45,000, Rosati would receive $35,000 and Coldwell Banker would receive $20,000.
Board President Eric Hansen said that after negotiations and discussions with the board’s attorney the idea of trying to go to court to recover the entire $100,000 was too risky. Legal fees could add up to more than $50,000 with no guarantee of winning the case, he said.
The Kane County land purchase was believed to be an attempt to exempt the district from consolidation under a state law written by McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks. This resulted in Franks and the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office taking the sanitary district to court last year.
Under state law, McHenry and Lake counties have the authority to eliminate taxing bodies that are entirely within the county, and to which the board appoints a majority of the trustees.
McHenry County Judge Thomas Meyer temporarily halted the district’s land purchase and later granted a preliminary injunction to block the sale.
Both sides would agree to dismiss the case without prejudice and bear the respective legal fees.
According to the agreement, all parties acknowledge that the settlement is not an admission of liability or illegal conduct by the parties and that the settlement is made to avoid the expense of time and money potential litigation may cost.
Lake in the Hills resident Joseph Greenwood said the situation should be a reminder to the community that the board should be vigilant and transparent in justifying major expenditures.
“There was a serious breach of public trust here, and that cannot be forgotten and it has to stay in the public knowledge,” Greenwood said.