When the North Riverside Village Board convenes for its meeting on Jan. 3, there will be a new village attorney for the first time in nearly a quarter century. On Nov. 21, trustees voted unanimously to approve Mayor Richard Scheck's appointment of Joliet-based Mahoney, Silverman & Cross Ltd. as the village's new legal counsel.
Village Attorney Arnold Karolewski, whose firm of Chukak & Tecson PC had been the village's law firm since the early 1980s, announced his resignation in October, stating he was stepping aside in order to attend to his sick mother.
Karolewski referred questions about the changeover to North Riverside Village Administrator Guy Belmonte.
"Arnold gave us his resignation letter, and the firm never offered anybody," Belmonte said. "Chukak and Tecson would have to answer that."
When Karolewski's resignation was announced last month, Scheck noted that North Riverside faced complex planning issues in coming years, including possibly rezoning and eventually redeveloping the U.S. Army National Guard armory property north of Cermak Road between First and 9th Avenues.
Although the Army has not announced plans to vacate the property, North Riverside annexed the property in the summer of 2004 in order to control the zoning of the land in anticipation of future development.
However, in August of this year, the Village of Broadview sued North Riverside, claiming Broadview bordered the armory property and was never given a chance to oppose the annexation. The case is currently in the hands of a federal judge, who is expected to issue a ruling soon.
David Silverman, a founding member of North Riverside's new law firm, said that North Riverside had contacted his firm and asked if they were interested in representing the village. The law firm currently represents a number of municipalities outside of Cook County, including Elwood, Frankfort, Oswego and Shorewood.
Silverman himself has had wide-ranging experience in municipal annexation and commercial land development
cases. According to his profile on the law firm's web site, Silverman "has provided legal counsel to both the private and public sectors concerning the annexation of thousands of acres to various municipalities, including approximately 10,000 acres since 1998."
In addition, Silverman has experience redeveloping old armory land, serving as a special consultant during the redevelopment of the Joliet Arsenal into one of the state's largest industrial developments.
"They've done a lot of open land development, and that's what we need," said Scheck. "We're looking for someone with new ideas and experience with that."
Silverman said he was not very familiar with the armory annexation case, saying he assumed North Riverside would continue using its current legal counsel on that case.
"We'll have to get up to speed on that," Silverman said.
Sitting at the North Riverside board table on a regular basis will be Eric P. Hanson, a former Will County assistant state's attorney, who specializes in governmental law, land use and appeals.
The new law firm officially takes over Jan. 1, 2006 through the end of the fiscal year on April 30, at which time the board will likely renew the contract. Mahoney, Silverman & Cross will get a retainer in addition to an hourly fee for litigation.
"The mayor and the board feel [Mahoney, Silverman & Cross] are well-versed in municipal government," Belmonte said. "
According to Belmonte, North Riverside's monthly legal retainer will be going up with the move to an new firm. The village had not received a fee increase from Chukak & Tecson in two years, Belmonte said.
Mahoney, Silverman & Cross will receive a retainer of $4,000 per month, according to Belmonte.