MAHOMET — Unhappy local residents had a simple message for Village of Mahomet trustees who voted Tuesday night to annex multiple subdivisions: Our attorney will be in touch.
“Unfortunately tonight, you won’t be able to vote and go home and think it’s over,” Briarcliff subdivision resident Ron White said, speaking to the village board before they voted on a trio of annexations. “I think in the long run you’ve probably been told it would happen that way.
“In reality, with a positive vote, I think it’s just the beginning.”
After the meeting, Karadan Drive resident Richard Eardley said, “No matter what pleas we made to the board ... I felt like their minds were closed. They had their minds made up. So, we’re going to court.
“We hate for it to come to this point,” he added. But, speaking during the meeting to the trustees, he said, “I guess we’ll see you in court.”
Trustees Bruce Colravy, David Johnson, Andy Harpst, Donald Lynn, Bill Oliger and Brian Metzger voted “yes” unanimously on the annexations. The first was to annex Briarcliff subdivisions property; the second annexed Summit Ridge subdivision; and the third was to annex Robinson Properties, including Tin Cup Campground.
Annexation makes the areas in question part of the village, subject to village taxes and regulations and eligible for village services such as brush, limb and leaf removal, snow removal and others. Government regulations allow for annexation when a subdivision is “wholly bounded” or completely surrounded by property that’s part of the village. In some cases, subdivisions have convenants that require that they be annexed once one side of the bloc of land in question is touching village limits.
In opposing annexation, numerous residents have said they don’t believe there are enough benefits to being part of the village to warrant added taxes, and many have said they wish to preserve the rural lifestyle they enjoy outside village limits.
The annexations approved Tuesday will add about 300 people to the village’s population.
Prior to the regularly scheduled meeting, about 20 people held signs in opposition to annexation outside the Cornbelt Fire Protection District training facility on Main Street. The session was moved to the Cornbelt facility in anticipation of a larger crowd than most trustee meetings, and the move was warranted. Dozens of people filled the training facility room for the meeting.
“Essentially, what happens next is going to depend on the area subdivisions,” said village President Sean Widener.
The Tuesday vote doesn’t mean the subdivisions immediately are considered within the village limits. Widener noted that the village must file paperwork with the Champaign County clerk’s office and finish the process of officially annexing the areas in question.
“We look forward to future dialogue,” Widener said. “Hopefully (we can) move forward and try to heal from this. We’re doing what’s in the best interest for the village.”
Prior to the votes on the annexations, Savoy attorney David Steigmann spoke on behalf of multiple Briarcliff and Summit Ridge residents.
“A municipal corporation such as the Village of Mahomet has no power to step outside its boundaries and annex or take over and occupy ... territories except under the limited circumstances that the Illinois Legislature has granted,” Steigmann said.
He told the board that the village should consult the Illinois attorney general’s office and the Champaign County state’s attorney’s office regarding the issue for “objective legal advice.”
Steigmann also noted, on an enlarged map provided by White, some land along the proposed annexed areas that is bordered by Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve.
“If the forest preserve is as if it’s not there, then all these areas ... are not surrounded by the village and thus is not totally bounded or wholly surrounded, and that is the fatal legal misunderstanding and factual misunderstanding,” Steigmann said. “The petition to proceed (involving annexation of Briarcliff) assumes Briarcliff is wholly bounded, and that is factually incorrect, and is legally incorrect.
“It’s a confusing issue, but again, what is the haste today?” he added.
Of a trustee vote to approve the annexations, Steigmann said, “We will be challenging it.”
Briarcliff resident Mae Vogel was among citizens who spoke out Tuesday night, as have many during meetings and village board study sessions since early March, when subdivision property owners were notified that the village planned to annex their land.
Vogel said, slowly and with emphasis on each word: “We don’t want to be annexed. Listen to us.”