May 9, 2017

Tinley Park sues ex-planner in downtown dispute

This is a horrible thing for the planner and the Village. Sure to worry any professional planner.

Tinley Park sues ex-planner in downtown dispute

Mike Nolan Daily Southtown

Tinley Park is blaming its former planning director for getting the village into a costly legal dispute involving now-abandoned plans to build The Reserve apartments in the village.

Saying in federal court papers that she "acted dishonestly" and was an "unfaithful, disloyal employee," the village claims Amy Connolly also "schemed" to alter development rules covering construction in and around Tinley Park's downtown business district, ultimately embroiling the village in two lawsuits concerning the apartment project, one of which was recently resolved.

Tinley Park's federal lawsuit, filed Monday and claiming Connolly breached her fiduciary duties as a village employee, seeks damages in excess of $75,000.

Her attorney, Patrick Walsh said Wednesday that "all of the allegations of misconduct (by Connolly) are false."

Tinley Park officials recently approved a settlement of the lawsuit brought by The Reserve's developer, Buckeye Community Hope Foundation, under which the Ohio nonprofit won't pursue plans for the 47-unit building.

Per the terms of the $2.45 million settlement, Tinley Park paid Buckeye $75,392 from the village's general fund, with another $684,608 coming from a legal settlement fund held on the village's behalf by its insurer, the Intergovernmental Risk Management Association. IRMA also paid another $1.69 million out of its own fund toward the settlement.

The U.S. Department of Justice last November sued the village over the project, alleging violations of federal fair housing laws. Attorneys for Tinley Park have asked that the lawsuit be dismissed.

Connolly was suspended from her job, which she'd held since the fall of 2007, about two weeks after the Tinley Park Plan Commission tabled a vote on The Reserve. She had played a key role in reviewing plans for the project and had determined it complied with village development rules in place at the time.

Connolly resigned in May of last year to take the job of city development director in Racine, Wis.

This past January, Connolly filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development alleging her suspension by Tinley Park violated federal fair housing laws.

The village contended that the building was, per Tinley Park's Legacy Code, required to have street-level commercial space, while Buckeye maintained that its apartment development had been in compliance with village codes at the time the Plan Commission considered the project.

An amendment to the Legacy Code changed street-level commercial required to street-level commercial permitted — a change since rescinded by the village board — which made it possible for The Reserve to be in compliance with development rules.

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