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August, 2000

from the Lake Villa - Lindenhurst Review 31 August 2000
Property owners angry about forced annexation
Lindenhurst, in a surprise legal maneuver, forcefully annexed more than 80 acres of land into the village at its Monday night Village Board meeting, leaving some long-time area landowners feeling angry and betrayed. Several parcel owners said they had no inkling of the village's move until they were notified on Tuesday by The Review.
The urgent need for annexing the four separate parcels said village officials, is to preserve the integrity of the Route 45 commercial corridor and block any encroachment by neighboring municipalities, such as Old Mill Creek. The anchor in the corridor is the just approved Jewel-Osco office park at the southwest corner of Sand Lake Road and Route 45.
"Lindenhurst does what they want, when they want and how they want," Bernie Webber angrily told The Review. "When they annexed Cross Creek, we (adjacent property owners) were supposed to get a registered letter about what was going on, but I didn't and my name's on the (village comprehensive plan) map."
The Webbers, who along with other Bonner family members own about 50 acres of the annexed property along the west side of Route 45, have a house and outbuilding and rent the acreage out for farming. They have lived there 16 years and like being county residents.
Jane Webber, Bernie's wife, said "I would think that we had a right to voice our opinion and at least have a say so about it."
Nita Bonner, whose late husband, Roy, was born on the property and lived there 83 years, was angered that she and others didn't receive registered letters informing them of the annexation.
"The first thing they're going to do is raise taxes," she said, noting her taxes are already high.
Baumunk said the Bonner taxes would go up, but not drastically. He said that adding in the village's share would make someone paying about $10,000 in Lake County taxes, typical of large, undeveloped farm tracts, would mean an added $600 or so.
Baumunk, who was raised on a working farm, said he's not insensitive to farm people's control of property that's been in their family for generations. "It was a very, very hard thing to do," he said.
Registered letters to the owners were to go out this week, explaining the move and its ramifications, Baumunk said. Bernie Webber said he intends to pursue legal action against the village.
Lindenhurst officials did not deny the basic strategy of forced annexations — that quick action was used to annex the properties before the parcel owners could attempt to block it. And that legal requirements in the state statutes don't require property owners to be notified directly prior to the act.
Mayor Paul Baumunk prefaced what he called the very painful decision of forced annexation at the board meeting, saying "that there comes a time when you have to make very tough decisions, based on what is best for future generations of residents.
"The reason the board needs to make the decision today is so that Old Mill Creek can not annex remaining (unprotected) parcels tomorrow. We have to protect an extremely valuable commercial area at Sand Lake Road and Route 45. We just do not want to gamble with the parcels going (to another municipality)."
The properties, all in unincorporated Lake County and taken in four separate annexation agreements, include: The Brooks property, 18.25 acres, just south of McDonald Forest Preserve and north of Farmington Green. Roy (Nita) Bonner property, 40 acres on the south end of Farmington Green; and contiguous (to the south) by 5 acres, owned by Bernie and Jane (Bonner) Webber. Two parcels, immediately west of the proposed Jewel-Osco office complex site, total about 15 acres. Three contiguous parcels also south of Sand Lake Road, one bounded on the west by the Jewel-Osco site and on the east side by Route 45, about six acres; the other two parcels on the east side of Route 45, totaling about six acres.
All the parcels were brought in under the village's Estate classification, which is the most restrictive in terms of zoning and use. However, all current uses by the property owners will stay the same, said village officials. Future uses would have to adhere to village zoning restrictions. The annexations now complete Lindenhurst's lock on the Route 45 corridor, from just south of Sand Lake Road, north to Grass Lake Road, and a little beyond. Gurnee's corporate limits come up to Route 45 on the east side.
Perceived threat
But it was Old Mill Creek, along the east side of Route 45, to the north of Gurnee (and Grandwood Park), that forced Lindenhurst to annex the properties it did, say Lindenhurst officials.
Officials cite a lack of discussion and cooperation by Old Mill Creek officials, going back about 10 years. Thus, said Lindenhurst Mayor Paul Baumunk and Attorney Paul Phillips, a "working boundary agreement" did not exist, in which Old Mill Creek would promise to stay on the east side of Route 45 and Lindenhurst on the west side.
"Working boundary agreements normally work," said Baumunk. "If not, you have to take other steps."
Philipps said Old Mill Creek has ventured more than once west of Route 45 to annex property, in defiance of any boundary agreement.
Paul Koppen, mayor of Old Mill Creek for nine years, said Lindenhurst's annexation plans don't concern the village of about 100 people.
"I don't care what they say or do. If they want to annex somebody, it's up to them," Koppen said.
Koppen said the concept of Route 45 as a dividing line may have not been formalized, but it's been observed in practice. "Our village has no intentions of going west of Route 45," he said.
Koppen said the only parcels west of Route 45 annexed by Old Mill Creek have been in the interests of facilitating an Illinois Department of Transportation bypass, two or three blocks west of existing Route 45.
The bypass is crucial to maintain the integrity of Historic Millburn, which is contiguous to Old Mill Creek's northwest edge.
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