By Phil Kadner firstname.lastname@example.org
Political contributions to elected officials and “vague, misleading contract terms” are among the reasons Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart cited for asking Robbins to “suspend” its development of a limestone quarry.
In a letter to Mayor Tyrone Ward delivered Tuesday, Dart asked the village to immediately “cease and desist” efforts to acquire land through quick-take legislation.
Dart, whose office launched an investigation into the proposed development last week, states in his letter to Ward that his office has turned up “significant areas of concerns” about the village’s contract with ALM Resources LLC.
“While the village desperately needs a revenue stream,” Dart notes, a royalty schedule set forth in a May 7, 2013, Acquisitions and Development Agreement is “vague, misleading and uncertain.”
Specifically, the sheriff notes that ALM would receive 95 percent of the gross revenue generated for several years after the quarry is fully operational,“but ALM is not required to make any payments to the village until IDOT (Illinois Department of Transportation) has agreed to the use of aggregate products in IDOT construction projects.’”
Under the terms of the contract, Dart states,“the village will receive no revenues if they breach any terms of the Agreement.”
SouthtownStar staff writer Casey Toner revealed last month that the project would put control of 320 acres, more than 20 percent of Robbins’ land, into a private-public partnership that includes ALM Resources, the village and Rib Mountain Aggregate.
The initial phase of the industrial project would include a limestone quarry, but it later would include a large underground mine beneath existing homes and businesses and also asphalt and ready-mix plants.
The village would use its power of eminent domain to take control of the 320 acres and turn it over to the developer through the public-private partnership, called Robbins Resources.
In his letter to the mayor, Dart notes that ALM and persons and entities related to ALM made multiple contributions to the political committees of village officials, a detail first reported in the SouthtownStar.
Under the provisions of the contract with ALM, Dart indicates that Robbins would have to take “all actions reasonably necessary to obtain quick-take legislation” to authorize an expedited process to take and demolish about 50 homes.
Darts asks village officials to “cease and desist” any efforts to introduce a quick-take bill in the Legislature “during the pendency of the investigation.”
He specifically cites eight areas of concern about the agreement between Robbins and ALM.
They include a $100,000 ALM escrow payment to reimburse the village for costs associated with the introduction and passage of quick-take legislation, and a provision that ALM “shall approve any and all consultants involved with the required quick-take legislation.”
“ALM’s main office appears to be an apartment in Riverside,” the sheriff states, including a photograph of the building.
Dart raises questions about Rib Mountain Aggregate, which is to manage day-to-day mining operations of the quarry site. He says its address is listed as 703 Childs in Wheaton,“but the company is not listed on the buildings’ signage. Rib Mountain Aggregate’s phone number is answered by the Will Group, a parent company whose project list does not contain any mining projects.”
The sheriff also notes that a “provision within the contract prohibits any party from ‘challenging the validity of the contract,’ and the contract also requires the village to notify ALM of any requests made for public information related to the proposed development.
Cara Smith, a spokeswoman for Dart who worked as an assistant Illinois attorney general for several years, told me,“I have read a lot of legal documents over the years but never seen anything like this one.”