Lake County States Attorneys Representing McHenry Co. Regional Superintendent in Bleachers Case

Attorneys from Lake County will serve as counsel for Regional Superintendent of Schools Leslie Schermerhorn in the legal battle over the $1.18 million bleachers.

Bleachers at Crystal Lake South High School from the neighbor's backyards.
Bleachers at Crystal Lake South High School from the neighbor's backyards.

Attorneys from the Lake County State's Attorney's Office have agreed to represent McHenry County's Regional Superintendent of Schools in the legal battle over the new bleachers at Crystal Lake South High School.

Lake County Chief Deputy State's Attorney Daniel Jasica and Asst. State's Attorney Carla Wyckoff have been appointed to represent Regional Superintendent of Schools Leslie Schermerhorn in the ongoing legal dispute over the newly installed $1.18 million bleachers at the school.

In most cases, Schermerhorn, as a county official, would be represented by McHenry County State's Attorney Louis Bianchi.

However, because Bianchi and his wife, Jean, as private citizens, filed the original lawsuit over the bleachers against Community High School District 155, he obviously could not serve in that capacity.

The Bianchis own a rental house on Amberwood Drive, and the home backs up to the new 51-foot-tall football stadium at the school, located at 1200 S. McHenry Ave., Crystal Lake.

Opposed to the size and close proximity of the bleachers, the Bianchis and neighbor Jeff Gurba filed the lawsuit last month against District 155. The trio seek a ruling forcing the school district to follow the city of Crystal Lake's zoning application, review and approval process. 

District 155 built the new 3,900-seat stadium without first presenting the plans to the city and obtaining zoning variances for the height, size and setback of the bleachers.

District officials say they are governed by the regional superintendent, while city officials point to state and supreme court decisions saying school districts must comply with municipal and county zoning ordinances. 

The Lake County attorneys were appointed to represent Schermerhorn last Wednesday night, just hours before all parties appeared in court Thursday afternoon before McHenry County Judge Michael Chmiel.

During the hearing, Chmiel granted the neighbor's motion for a stay, or "freeze," on discovery in the case. Tom Burney, attorney for the neighbors, said the request for discovery by the District 155 attorneys was "irrelevant." Burney suggested the case balances on "purely a legal issue."

"This is an unnecessary expense and time that counsel (District 155) is asking my clients to go through," Burney said. "I think your (the judge's) decision is going to pretty much finish both of these cases."

As part of the discovery process, District 155 attorneys were seeking information about the homeowners' property values, proof of decrease in property values because of the bleachers, original home purchase prices, trust documents and more. 

District 155 Attorney Robert Swain said in court he has requested between 3,000 to 4,000 pages of documents from the city of Crystal Lake through the Freedom of Information Act. The attorneys have been acquiring documents pertaining to the city's zoning ordinances.

The city has complied with the FOIA requests, but Swain said he wanted to proceed with the discovery process should he need such information in the future. 

Justin Hansen, representing the city of Crystal Lake, has presented a motion to the judge asking for a "summary of judgement," on whether the school district is required to comply with the municipal zoning ordinances.

Judge Chmiel, wanting to give Schermerhorn's newly appointed attorneys time to meet with their client and catch up to speed with the case, set a time schedule for which all parties must submit their motions, and subsequent responses.

Once all documents have been filed, attorneys for the school district, city, homeowners and superintendent will meet in court again on Nov. 7 to plead their cases. 

Related Stories:

School Bus Fleet Moved for CL South Game; Local Leaders Offer to Serve as Mediators

Just Delivered: 5 Port-O-Potties Unders Crystal Lake South Bleachers

CL South Bleachers Inspected; Court Proceedings Continue

Bleachers: District 155 May Challenge City's Zoning Code if Forced to Follow Process

Petition Supports City in Bleachers Dispute

CL South Fans May Get to Use Bleachers- For Now; Legal Battle Continues

District 155 Extends Court Battle to Include City of Crystal Lake, Regional Superintendent

CL South Neighbors File Lawsuit Against District 155; Football Season in Flux

District 155 Installs Massive New Bleachers at CL South High School Without City Approval

'Battle of the Bleachers' Continues Between District 155 and City of Crystal Lake 

CL Mayor Asks District 155 to Stop Work on Bleachers and Obtain Zoning Approval

Stop Work Order from City to District 155 for CL South Bleachers


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