Attorneys for Community High School District 155, the city of Crystal Lake, and homeowners met in court on Thursday for the ongoing legal battle over the new $1.18 million bleachers installed at Crystal Lake South High School.
For the first time since the legal wrangling began, McHenry County Regional Superintendent of Schools Leslie Schermerhorn appeared before Judge Michael Chmiel, too.
Schermerhorn, along with the city of Crystal Lake, was brought into the proceedings because of a third-party suit filed by District 155.
Typically, the county's regional superintendent of schools would be represented by McHenry County State's Attorney Louis Bianchi.
However, Bianchi happens to be one of the Crystal Lake homeowners who, earlier this month, filed the lawsuit against District 155 when the bleachers were installed without notice, or compliance with city zoning codes.
Bianchi and his wife, Jean, own a rental house on Amberwood Drive. The home's backyard faces the new, 51-foot-tall football stadium. The school is located at 1200 S. McHenry Ave. in Crystal Lake.
Judge Chmiel said McHenry County Chief Justice Michael Sullivan will begin the process of contacting State's Attorney offices in adjacent counties to get a "Special State's Attorney" fill-in to represent Schermerhorn in the case.
Sullivan will contact offices in Lake, Kane, Winnebago, Cook and Boone counties, Judge Chmiel said.
All parties are scheduled to return to court at 2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 5. Chmiel said he is aiming to hold a hearing on the case on Oct. 17.
The homeowners want District 155 to comply with the city's zoning application and approval process. Attorneys for the city have asked Chmiel for a judgement on whether the school district must comply the with the city's zoning ordinance.
City officials said the stadium requires a zoning variation for its height and setback from the property line, as well as storm water permits. The structure also warrants an additional 680 parking spaces, per city code, the homeowners' attorney Tom Burney told Chmiel last week.
District 155 officials maintain they are governed solely by the Regional Superintendent of Schools and don't need approval from the city.
However, the district has applied for and received 26 permits from the city over the past 25 years for various projects, city officials said.
In the meantime, Schermerhorn said she issued a occupancy permit to Crystal Lake South High School on Thursday morning, clearing the way for spectators to use the new bleachers, which will seat up to 3,900 spectators.
The Crystal Lake South football team's first home game is scheduled for tonight, Aug. 30.
Schermerhorn said the bleachers were inspected at 2 p.m. Wednesday by two Life-Health Safety inspectors from the county, as well as representatives from the District 155 building and maintenance department, bleacher company, and Pepper Construction.
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