Suffredin- An Advocate for All of Us  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
  The Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange trade 60% of the world futures contracts.
   
     
     
     



Decadelong legal battle over Barrington Hills horse farm — eyed as huge forest preserve — may be nearing resolution

Monday, February 04, 2019
Chicago Tribune
by Robert McCoppin

Decadelong legal battle over Barrington Hills horse farm — eyed as huge forest preserve — may be nearing resolution

After at least six lawsuits and almost 10 years in court, a resolution may be approaching over whether a 400-acre horse farm in Barrington Hills will become forest preserve property.

The legal tug of war has led to bad blood between the prior purchasers of the property and officials from the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, who will square off at trial at the end of February.

But with recent court rulings going against the prior owners, time may be running out on their fight against a public takeover. If the forest preserve district prevails, the site would be its largest new property in some 50 years.

The property in question, Horizon Farm, formerly known as Horizon Farms, contains rolling pastures, racetracks, numerous stables, and at least one house and a mansion, which have fallen into severe disrepair. Recently, a court appointed a receiver to maintain the property while its future is decided.

Forest preserve officials have not said exactly what they would do with the property, but said they would generally maintain it as public land for hiking, biking and horseback riding. At one point they planned to allow a traditional faux fox hunt to continue on the property. But all that has been put aside during convoluted litigation.

The property owners in the case are Richard Cannon, an intellectual property attorney, and his wife, Meryl Squires-Cannon, CEO of Merix Pharmaceutical Corp. The Cannons kept some 40 horses at the farm, and they said when it came up for auction, they leveraged all their assets to make a $2 million down payment for the land, where they planned to build their dream home and raise horses. The couple bought the farm in 2006, at the height of the real estate bubble, for $19 million, financed primarily by Amcore Bank.

But they said they were surprised by 500 pages of bank documents shortly before closing, some with major changes to the terms, and felt pressured into signing an unfair deal, because otherwise they would have lost their down payment.

After Amcore tried unsuccessfully to collect on its initial one-year loan for $15 million, the bank filed to foreclose on the property. The U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency later determined that Amcore practiced “unsafe or unsound business practices,” and appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation as receiver, which sold its assets to BMO Harris Bank. The bank then sold the note to the forest preserve district, which won an initial summary judgment to complete the foreclosure.

In 2016, the district temporarily opened the farm as a forest preserve, allowing people to use its trails. The district also won a court order to evict the Cannons. In retaliation, the Cannons challenged and won a ruling requiring a trial in the foreclosure case. They temporarily regained control of the property, and closed it to the public the following year.

Horizon Farm

Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune
If the forest preserve district prevails, the nearly 400-acre Horizon Farm in Barrington Hills would be the Cook County Forest Preserve District's largest land acquisition since 1968.
If the forest preserve district prevails, the nearly 400-acre Horizon Farm in Barrington Hills would be the Cook County Forest Preserve District's largest land acquisition since 1968. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune)

The Cannons filed a succession of lawsuits, three in state court and three in federal court, claiming unjust takings, fraud and breach of its lease, but all the cases were dismissed or delayed.

In addition to the original bank loan, the deal had only been made possible when Robert McGinley, representing the sellers, Horizon Farms Inc., agreed to loan the couple $1.5 million, in order to take advantage of inheritance tax savings that would expire at the end of the year, according to the petition.

To repay that loan plus 20 percent annual interest, the Cannons were ordered to pay $8 million to McGinley Partners. But they aren’t giving up without a fight.

On Friday, the Cannons filed a petition to vacate the $8 million judgment against them, claiming fraudulent changes to the sales documents on behalf of the lenders, Amcore and McGinley, who could not be immediately reached for comment. “The fraudulent acts of seller and lender should shock the conscience of this Court,” the petition states.

As if the financial turmoil were not enough, there was also a feud sparked when Meryl Squires-Cannon was arrested for criminal trespassing on the property. She filed suit against forest preserve police for false arrest and malicious prosecution, but was cleared of the charge at trial, and her suit was dismissed.

Further complicating matters, the property has a conservation easement to keep it mostly in its open, natural state, and which limits development to eight estates.

Despite all the legal machinations, one federal court ruling stated, “We agree with the district court, the Cannons inflicted their own damage by defaulting on the note.”

The Cannons aim to challenge the foreclosure when the case finally goes to trial Feb. 25.

rmccoppin@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @RobertMcCoppin

 



Recent Headlines

System News
Friday, May 17, 2019
Special to suffredin.org

Cook County Health Recognizes Mental Health Awareness Month
Thursday, May 16, 2019
Daily Herald

Skokie plans for road improvements near Edens Expressway: 'It’s desperately needed'
Thursday, May 16, 2019
Skokie Review

5 Chicago hospitals earn D grades for patient safety in new report, Northwestern slips to a B
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Chicago Daily Law Bulletin: Backward Glances
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Cook County Eliminated Its Gang Database, But Advocates Say Harm Continues
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
WBEZ News

New Cook County Housing Authority Proposal Targets the 'Missing Middle'
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
Evanston RoundTable

Census Citizenship Question Could Hurt Citizens, Noncitizens Alike
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
WBEZ Chicago Public Radio

News from Friends of the Forest Preserves
Tuesday, May 14, 2019
Special to suffredin.org

Cook County commissioners get earful about soon-to-be-destroyed gang database
Tuesday, May 14, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Detainee dies days after suicide attempt at Cook County jail
Tuesday, May 14, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Curious City How Chicago Women Created The World’s First Juvenile Justice System
Monday, May 13, 2019
WBEZ Chicago Public Radio

Cook County report: Sharp drop in jail population, but crime did not jump
Friday, May 10, 2019
Injustice Watch

Will Cook County be home to the next big measles outbreak? Researchers think so.
Friday, May 10, 2019
Chicago Tribune

May is Prime Time for Birding in the Forest Preserves of Cook County
Thursday, May 09, 2019
Special to suffredin.org

More Babies Are Illegally Abandoned Than Turned Over Through Illinois’ Safe Haven Law In Cook County
Thursday, May 09, 2019
CBS Chicago

Empty businesses may lose county tax incentives
Wednesday, May 08, 2019
Homewood-Flossmoor Chronicle

As new DCFS report highlights failures, Cook County guardian says 'inept' child welfare agency is ‘not doing its job ... at every level’
Tuesday, May 07, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County passes bill to stop discrimination against tenant applicants
Tuesday, May 07, 2019
Chicago Crusader

Women Jail Guards Say Sheriff’s Department Tolerated Sexual Harassment By Cook County Inmates
Monday, May 06, 2019
WBEZ Chicago public Radio

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP