Law Suit Will Not Slow Fresh Thyme

As neighboring homeowners take legal action, new Deerfield grocery store proceeds with its plans.

Fresh Thyme will move ahead with its Deerfield plans despite a lawsuit against the Village by neighboring homeowners.
Fresh Thyme will move ahead with its Deerfield plans despite a lawsuit against the Village by neighboring homeowners.

A lawsuit filed Nov. 12 by homeowners near Cadwell Corners to prevent Fresh Thyme Farmers Market from opening in Deerfield next year will not slow the efforts of the grocery store chain to open its business in town.

“There is no change in our plans,” Fresh Thyme Vice President—Construction Tracy Lindsey said. His sentiments were echoed by Deerfield Mayor Harriet Rosenthal. Rosenthal along with the Village and the town’s six trustees are the defendants in the case. Neither Fresh Thyme nor Cadwell Corners are participants.

Deer Run Homeowners Association President Jeff Bizar and area property owner Michael Berliant filed suit in Lake County Circuit Court for a review by a judge of the Village’s decision to grant Fresh Thyme a special use permit to open its store.

If successful, the litigation will overrule Deerfield’s legislative action granting the special use permit, according to Elliott Wiczer, one of the attorneys for Bizar and Berliant. “When a municipality’s acts are (suspect), the remedy is an appeal in Circuit Court,” he said.

Neither Deerfield Village Manager Kent Street nor Village Attorney Peter Colbentz believe the case will stand a court’s scrutiny and expect the judge to throw the case out. “I don’t believe it has merit and it will be dismissed,” Colbentz said.

Wiczer expects a different result. He thinks the Village did not follow the necessary steps to issue a special use permit. “If it didn’t have merit it would not have been filed,” he said. “You have an intensive use and that is the reason for a special use permit and those reasons have not been met.

Homeowners in the vicinity of Waukegan and Lake Cook Roads where the store will be have been objecting to the project since it was first proposed early this year. The Village crafted an ordinance and side agreement to protect nearby residents with provisions Street has called unprecedented. Rosenthal agrees.

“We took our responsibility to protect the homeowners very seriously,” Rosenthal said. “This was unprecedented,” she added referring to provisions like allowing representatives of the homeowners to watch Fresh Thyme’s videos to help enforce the agreement.

While the special use permit provides fines for violations and Rosenthal has said more than once repeated violations could result in revocation of the special use permit, Bizar is not satisfied because the ordinance and side agreement are not sufficiently specific in his opinion.

“The words (of the special use permit) say we might fine not you will fine,” Bizar said. “It does not say if you have X in fines you will lose the permit.” He also feels the process with the Village was not independent enough for his liking. “If an objective judge (rules) the Village can do this I will sit much better.”

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