Lake in the Hills Sanitary District’s legal battle is over

Aug. 24, 2017

The path is clear for McHenry County to move forward with the consolidation of the Lake in the Hills Sanitary District with the village of Lake in the Hills, officials said Thursday.

Former sanitary district board President Shelby Key and Trustee Terry Easler, who opposed consolidation, have backed down from challenging the county’s authority to appoint new trustees to the sanitary district board and from an earlier plan to expand the sanitary district’s footprint.

In April, Key and Easler voted to annex a strip of roadway along Square Barn Road in Huntley in Kane County, which would have made the district a multicounty entity transferring the McHenry County Board’s authority to appoint new trustees to the state legislature.

In June, McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks appointed two new sanitary district trustees who reversed that decision at a special meeting in July, prompting a legal battle.

A McHenry County judge last week granted a preliminary injunction barring the sanitary district from buying 13.88 acres of Kane County farmland for more than $950,000. A Sept. 19 trial date was set to determine whether the district had authority to annex land across county lines.

Sanitary district officials now have agreed to cease annexation efforts, Franks and McHenry County state’s attorney Patrick Kenneally said Thursday.

Franks’ appointments of trustees Eric Hansen and Kyle Kane stands, as does their July vote to undo the annexation. Key, whose term expired April 30 and was not renewed by Franks, has relinquished the post, Franks said.

“I am happy that the sanitary district officials who brought this challenge forward have decided, in the best interests of the taxpayers, to end it,” said Franks, a Marengo Democrat.

As a former state legislator, Franks wrote the state law that allows the McHenry and Lake county boards to eliminate taxing bodies within their jurisdictions if they appoint a majority of the trustees for those entities. McHenry County has more than 120 taxing bodies.

Lake in the Hills village trustees must approve of any consolidation. Sanitary district residents also could force the issue through a referendum.

The Lake in the Hills Sanitary District provides wastewater collection and water pollution control — funded through taxes and user fees — to roughly 40,000 residents within 11 square miles. It has 11,700 mostly residential customers in Lake in the Hills and parts of Crystal Lake and Huntley.