Under pressure to settle a developer’s lawsuit, the Homewood Village Board agreed Tuesday night to give up the town’s control over anything that gets built on the former Calumet Country Club.
The decision to exclude the property from the south suburb’s boundaries could give the developer, Diversified Partners, a better chance to construct a trucking hub on the 127-acre site at 2136 175th St. The board’s 4-0 vote clears the way for Diversified to ask neighboring Hazel Crest to annex the property.
Under intense pressure from people who opposed the industrial development on open land, Homewood trustees on March 9 unanimously rejected zoning for the project. But the decision left the village open to damages in a lawsuit Diversified filed to bring the property to Hazel Crest.
By agreeing to the de-annexation, Homewood was abiding by a settlement negotiated in the case, trustees were told. Critics of the project urged the board to continue fighting the case, but Village Attorney Christopher Cummings said Diversified has a strong case for de-annexation.
“It became clear the village would have little to argue if this case went to trial,” Cummings said. The former country club, which ceased operating last year, is bordered on three sides by Hazel Crest.
Several Homewood residents urged trustees to retain control over the site. Liz Varmecky, part of South Suburbs for Greenspace over Concrete, accused the board of ceding power to Diversified.
The developer’s plan for four warehouses totaling 800,000 square feet would bring truck traffic, noise and pollution to nearby homes, neighbors have argued. Hazel Crest Village President Vernard Alsberry Jr. previously issued a statement opposing the development. Some in Homewood believe Hazel Crest nevertheless could authorize a project for the sake of its tax revenue.
Alsberry did not respond to messages Tuesday.
Diversified CEO Walt Brown Jr., interviewed before the board’s vote, said that if Homewood de-annexes the property, “we become a free agent. We’ll look at all options.” He declined to answer directly if he will seek annexation to Hazel Crest.
The settlement requires Homewood to pay Diversified $250,000.