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Fabyan Crossing landscape plan – almost – put Geneva in cross-hairs of legal dispute

GENEVA – Aldermen unanimously voted as the Committee of the Whole on Jan. 8 to recommend approval of an ordinance to allow modifications to landscaping, signage, building elevations and the site plan for a portion of the Fabyan Crossing Shopping Center.

The committee’s action followed a warning from Mayor Kevin Burns to stick to the issue at hand – renovations at the former Gander Mountain store, 2100 S. Randall Road, Geneva – and not get involved in a legal dispute between two owners in the shopping center.

The next court date is Jan. 25.

Parkway Construction & Associates is assisting At Home, a home decor superstore, in the renovation of the 104,800-square-foot former Gander Mountain space, documents show.

The owner of the Gander Mountain, Geneva Center 2015 LLC, is in a legal dispute with Wauconda LLC, the owner of the former Dominick’s in the same shopping center.

The dispute is over the mall owners’ governing documents. The lawsuit has halted work by Wauconda LLC to prepare the former Dominick’s space at 2000 S. Randall Road, Geneva, where grocery retailer Fresh Thyme and Burlington are to share the space.

Mark Lambert, president of The Crown Group – which represents Wauconda LLC – said he would answer any questions aldermen might have about the legal dispute.

Burns said he did not believe it was relevant to the issue. “I would ask that the chair rule on whether there is relevance and that we turn back to the matter on the floor,” Burns said.

But 3rd Ward Alderman Dean Kilburg, acting as chairman of the Committee of the Whole meeting, allowed Lambert to continue.

“What you are being asked to approve tonight is inconsistent with what you have already approved for us on the overall landscaping plan,” Lambert said.

Community Development Director David DeGroot said the landscaping proposed was for missing materials on the interior parking lot islands and for permanent landscaping along Fabyan Parkway.

“It does not conflict with the previous approval,” DeGroot said.

As the conversation veered again toward the legal dispute, Burns restated his objection.

“For this community to engage in this discussion risks drawing us into that lawsuit. I think it is a risk that we should not be taking,” Burns said.

Lambert had called the city about speaking at that night’s meeting, and if he had talked to Burns, the mayor said he would have advised Lambert “strongly not to do that.”

“The judge will make a decision soon enough,” Burns said. “Our matter is to whether we wish to embrace At Home or do we wish to throw the entire Fabyan Crossing development at risk. Because I guarantee you – once this meeting is tuned into [online] by the other developers, there is a 50-50 chance they will never return to this community.”

The City Council will take final action.

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