Des Plaines businesses challenge TIF district

Published: 5/31/2008 12:03 AM

They're not going down without a fight.

Five businesses who expect to have their property taken as a result of Des Plaines' controversial Five Corners redevelopment TIF district filed suit in court Friday, alleging the plan is illegal.

The TIF district was approved by the Des Plaines City Council on Nov. 6, 2006, a day before an advisory referendum on the plan showed voters opposed it by about 3 to 1.

"The existence of this pending referendum was well known to the city and its elected officials, and in an apparent flagrant effort to circumvent the political consequences of the likelihood of overwhelming disapproval by the voters … the council preempted the referendum by passing the ordinances created the Five Corners TIF the day before the election," the suit charges.

The suit claims that in the haste to ram the plan through, the city cut corners, thereby making the ordinance illegal. It claims there was no statutorily required redevelopment plan. While the suit acknowledges something called a plan was filed, it says the plan was so vague as to be meaningless.

"In other words, to say the land was available for everything, was to say nothing. The plat map indicated only the existing lots and streets as currently configured," the suit claims.

The suit also claims the plan did not demonstrate blight in the area, as required, and was defective in a number of other areas.

City fathers claimed the 70-acre TIF district would reinvigorate a lagging area, bringing in big-box retail.

City leaders could not be reached late Friday afternoon, but Tom Becker, who was an alderman at the time and supported the TIF district, said the suit is a meritless, last-ditch attempt by those who opposed it.

The businesses filing suit are: Geiser-Berner Plumbing Service Inc.; 1484 East Rand Road LLC; Wojtun Entertainment Ltd.; MBV Properties LLC; and Chromatech Printing Inc.