Trenching work has begun on the infrastructure network that will take shape for water and sanitary service lines ahead of the construction on Woodman’s Foods store in Lakemoor, located at the southwest corner of routes 12 and 120.
The stormwater receptor system is completed and funding for the preliminary projects is coming from a tax-increment financing designation established by the municipality in Feb. 2015.
However, two matters awaiting resolution are the settlement of a lawsuit filed in Lake County Court one day after the TIF district’s creation, and the actual purchase of the 74-acre parcel by the Janesville, Wis.-based company.
Wauconda Community Unit School District 118 filed the complaint opposing Lakemoor’s assertions in meeting the TIF district criteria, and later joined by the Wauconda district Library and Wauconda Township as plaintiffs.
The issue of the civil suit, filed by District 118, challenged the TIF district creation identifying its total 114 parcel acres as farmland that was capable of supporting cattle and corn production adhering to its decades-long use. The village maintained the parcel was prone to flooding, unimproved, and met the definition of “blighted,” conforming to definitions that met state guidelines for the designation.
“We have a hearing scheduled, and at that time, we intend to pursue a way to resolve the lawsuit,” said Lakemoor Mayor Todd Wiehofen. “It’s been three years in process, and they are still in the discovery stage for documents. Their attorneys have charged them $1.3 million for services, so far. Our attorney costs have amounted to $300,000 and will be paid out of the TIF district funds.
A Feb. 1 letter communication, obtained by the Chronicle, from Wiehofen to “elected officials,” railed against the drawn-out legal proceedings and the itemized $1.17 million paid by the school district to Arlington Heights-based Hodges, Liozzi, Eisenhammer, Rodick and Kohn LLP.
It stated, in part, “It has been brought to my attention that you would like a copy of the spread sheet that I use to track your costs for attorney fees paid … by District 118. I have attached a copy of what we have been able to obtain from the school district’s website … All I know is that you have spent $1,168,414.04 of taxpayer dollars, as of the end of November 2017, for legal services.
“We have had depositions with Wauconda Township, Library and School District, where none of them had actual knowledge of what they have spent to date … It saddens me to see money that could have been used to benefit the children in your district being used to fight development that would provide them with not only goods and services they need, but also jobs that could help improve their way of life.”
A previous settlement offer was forwarded to the three governmental agencies and yet to be acknowledged, according to Wiehofen.
“The TIF district itself is in place and valid, and the infrastructure costs will be reimbursed through funds in the TIF district account, as planned,” he said. “Woodman’s is paying for the construction costs of its 240,000-square-foot store and the outlot improvements. They are set to close on the property purchase next month. This is coming together, and it will be a boon for the area not only in providing more than 200 jobs, but supplying amenities and a commercial base.”
Vernon Hills-based Manhard Consulting, Ltd. submitted a report for probable cost estimates last Oct. 31 for public sanitary and water main improvements along Route 120. The water main and force main lines as off-site utility improvements are expected to be $1.03 million. The on-site utility improvements with sanitary service and water main lines, plus lateral connections for both lines, are pegged at $1.63 million for a $2.66 million total.
“Right now, the stormwater system is in place,” said Wiehofen. “The clean water piping, and the sanitary service lines are currently being installed. The clean water is coming from the village’s facility, roughly one mile away, and the effluent water will go to the Northern Moraine Waste Water Reclamation District in Island Lake for treatment and processing.”
Berger Excavating, of Wauconda, has been trenching for piping along Route 120, near its intersection with Fisher Road.
Wauconda District 118 Superintendent Daniel Coles was unable to be reached for comment.
Woodman’s Foods is an employee-owned commercial enterprise with 16 locations including Illinois sites in Carpentersville, North Aurora, and Rockford. Its Pleasant Prairie, Wis. location is the “flagship model” for the exterior appearance and interior schema. A Buffalo Grove site is also moving forward on “Berenesa Plaza,” a 1992 commercial enterprise that never materialized at the northwest corner of Milwaukee Avenue and Deerfield Parkway.
—Woodman’s Foods breaks ground in Lakemoor–