Palos Park, Lemont clash over possible land annexation

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Two Chicago suburbs are in a bitter fight over land. Palos Park has its eye on 2,000 acres in the middle of Lemont for commercial and residential development.

"The county is creating an island, and islands do one thing: they create animosity," said Lemont Village President Brian Reeves.

The issue centers on a Cook County Forest Preserve substation between the two villages which has a failing water well and would like Lake Michigan water, which Palos Park can provide. That need has now grown into a larger issue of annexation, as Palos Park looks to annex a chunk of Forest Preserve property and a much larger swath of land to the west, including well-known golf courses and surrounding undeveloped land. But Lemont says that land is part of Lemont Township.

"Lemont surrounds it," says George Schafer, Lemont Village administrator. "At the end of the day it should be Lemont.

Now the two towns are hurling words at each other like "land grab" and "we're friendlier."

Lemont's concern is if the area becomes part of Palos Park and more housing follows, the burden of more schools and police protection will still rest with Lemont.

"Palos Park will bring these utilities, including Lake Michigan water, which Lemont cannot provide," said Palos Park Mayor John Mahoney

Palos Park's leaders say they're not interested in high density housing but are game to deal with four principle property owners who say Lemont's leaders are not as friendly.

The exchanges played out today in front of the full Cook County Board which is being asked to permit Palos Park to annex a piece of Forest Preserve land - a key to the deal. While they watch and wait, the neighboring villages are feeling friction.

The Forest Preserve District is not taking sides in this flap, though it did go to Palos Park first with a request for Lake Michigan water for its police substation. No decision was made Tuesday on what flag will fly where; county board members want some more time for study.
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