One of the largest and most expensive pieces of property among the sprawling residences of Barrington Hills - the 400-acre Horizon Farms estate - has fallen under the threat of foreclosure.
But the owners of the estate, who bought the property for $19.3 million at auction in 2006, deny they were delinquent in paying their $14.5 million mortgage and claim the foreclosure suit filed against them by Amcore Bank was triggered by the bank's own internal problems.
Representatives of Amcore declined to comment, saying they don't speak publicly about legal matters.
Property owner Meryl Squires Cannon, president of Merix Pharmaceutical Corp. in Barrington, said she and her husband Richard Cannon were actually building their own legal case against Amcore when it sued them first, filing in Cook County on June 8.
"We have a big dispute with Amcore Bank and are trying to get this resolved," Cannon said. "We were very surprised that they went ahead and took these measures."
She declined to elaborate on the dispute other than to express confidence the matter would be resolved, though she said her attorney warned her the case could drag out for years in court.
In the meantime, the pending legal issues are not expected to interfere with the Cannon family's use of the working horse farm, nor of their adjacent residence.
About 50 show and racehorses are being raised on the farm currently. Cannon, a longtime Barrington-area resident, leased the land from 2003 until she bought it from the McGinley family in 2006.
Cannon said she invented the formula behind the Releev line of cold sore and shingles remedies, which are the basis of her Barrington business.
Barrington Hills Village President Robert Abboud said his affluent community hasn't been immune to foreclosures, though it has probably seen proportionately fewer than other towns.
Though every foreclosure raises the question of a community's financial health, he said he has no fear about the viability of Horizon Farms' future as a horse farm.
"There's a high demand for these properties here in the village," Abboud said. "I'm concerned about the family. This is a terrible thing to happen to a family, and it happens to be one of our larger properties."
Village Manager Robert Kosin said Horizon Farms is probably among the five largest parcels of land in semirural, equestrian-focused Barrington Hills.
Abboud said foreclosures in general are an unfortunate side effect of the economic optimism Americans have felt for decades: that they'll have more money tomorrow than they do today.
Recent turns in the nation's fortunes have even threatened his own long-held belief in the economy's cyclical nature, Abboud said.
He believes the problems are largely caused by moving the American economy further away from manufacturing - which is why he finds it ironic that the Horizon Farms foreclosure affects a family behind a manufacturing business.