Decision expected soon on armory annexation

Broadview says they should have been notified

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By ROBERT CARR

Broadview could lose its rights to 40 acres of adjacent land, now used by the Illinois National Guard, if a judge rules soon that North Riverside has sole claim to the property. Though Broadview said in a recent lawsuit that it borders the guard property, North Riverside said it now has the right to take the acreage if the military ever moves out.

On Friday, attorneys for North Riverside submitted final arguments why the suit should be dismissed to Judge Wayne Andersen of the United States District Court, Eastern Division. The judge will either schedule a hearing, or simply write a decision on whether to dismiss the case. Broadview says the land-grab violated state law and military policy. "North Riverside misled the Army into thinking that Broadview did not object" to the annexation last year, reads part of Broadview's court pleadings.

The National Guard agreed. The Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers, represented in the lawsuit by Patrick Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, admitted in a brief filed Oct. 24 that the annexation request should never have been submitted.

"Because of the misrepresentations of North Riverside, the petition as submitted did not comply with Army Regulation Policy considerations," according to U.S. attorneys.

However, North Riverside Mayor Richard Scheck said he's ignoring the lawsuit, and hopes to finish a plan for mixed-use retail development for the property by Christmas. The base is bounded by Cermak Road on the south, the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad Line on the north, First Avenue to the east and Ninth Avenue on the west.

The guard has not announced plans to close the base, but its license for the property is up in March 2009. North Riverside annexed the 40-acre property last year with the approval of the Army Corps of Engineers. Broadview attorneys said their village borders the base and by state law governing annexation agreements should have been able to protest the land grab before it was approved by the military. Application documents show North Riverside did not tell the guard that Broadview would have an interest on the property. However, Adam Kingsley, an attorney for North Riverside, told the Landmark that Broadview has no claim to the property under state law. He said the annexation did not require a formal agreement, and therefore did not require notifying Broadview.

"The Army Corps came to us for a voluntary annexation. That makes the rule somewhat different from the municipality going out and doing the annexation," Kingsley said.

The Corps approved annexation, but appears to be having second thoughts. Besides the afterthought rejection of the petition, a Corps executive wrote a letter to Scheck in July stating that he would not have approved the annexation if he had known about Broadview's opposition.

North Riverside also said Broadview has never formally objected to an annexation. However, a Corps of Engineers letter dated Sept. 9, 2002, says that Broadview had opposed annexation attempts then, and also in 1984. The letter, written by Robert Swieconek, who represents the Real Property Management and Disposal Office for the Corps, says U.S. Rep. William Lipinski was told that Broadview must agree to the annexation for it to be approved by the military.

North Riverside challenged the letter, saying it wasn't signed by Swieconek. The Army Corps of Engineers refused comment for this story.

Both villages claim ownership to the base. Broadview says the armory land formerly belonged to that village, but North Riverside disagrees. In its brief, the Army Corps says it acquired the property years ago from Broadview. Also, Broadview now provides water service to the base, but North Riverside said it is ready to provide the same service. North Riverside already provides police, fire and snow plowing service to the base.

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