MUIRHEAD HUI L.L.C; ROBERT C. MUIRHEAD; MARGARET M. MARCOM; THE ROBERT C. MUIRHEAD DECLARATION OF TRUST DATED OCTOBER 29, 1991; MICHAEL PETERSDORF; and SARAH PETERSDORF, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
THE FOREST PRESERVE DISTRICT OF KANE COUNTY; MICHAEL KENYON, in His Official Capacity as President of the Forest Preserve District of Kane County; MONICA MEYERS, in Her Official Capacity as Executive Director of the Forest Preserve District of Kane County; KINNALLY FLAHERTY KRENTZ LORAN HODGE & MASUR, P.C.; and GERALD HODGE, Defendants-Appellees.
from the Circuit Court of Kane County No. 17-MR-152 Honorable
David R. Akemann, Judge, Presiding.
JUSTICE SCHOSTOK delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices Burke and Spence concurred in the judgment
1 The instant case concerns the interpretation of a
restrictive covenant and whether the sellers retained any
property rights after they sold their property. The circuit
court of Kane County found that they did not and therefore
dismissed their complaint. The sellers appeal from the trial
court's order. We affirm.
3 In 2003, the plaintiffs Muirhead Hui L.L.C., Robert C.
Muirhead, Margaret M. Marcom, and the Robert C. Muirhead
Declaration of Trust Dated October 29, 1991, sold some
parcels of land to the defendant the Forest Preserve District
of Kane County (the District). Other individuals who are not
parties to this suit also sold some parcels to the District.
The land the District acquired totaled 531.8 acres and would
become known as the Muirhead Springs Forest Preserve. The
District hoped to receive a grant from the Department of
Natural Resources (DNR) in order to make certain improvements
to the land. In order to facilitate receiving that grant, the
District included a restrictive covenant with the deeds that
were recorded on September 25, 2003. That covenant stated:
"The real property described herein must be maintained
for public outdoor recreation use purposes only as prescribed
by the State of Illinois, Department of Natural Resources
under terms of the State's Open Space Lands Acquisition
& Development (OSLAD) grant program and shall not be sold
or exchanged or have other encumbrances places [sic]
on the title, in whole or in part, which divests control or
interest in the property to another party without prior
approval from the State of Illinois, Department of Natural
Resources or its successor."
4 On January 21, 2004, one of the deeds was rerecorded to
correct a scrivener's error in the legal description.
5 On January 4, 2005, all of the deeds were rerecorded to add
specific DNR covenant and grant language. The new covenant
was titled, "Historic and Natural Resources Preservation
Covenant For 531.8 acres of the Muirhead Springs Acquisition
by the Kane County Forest Preserve District, Kane
County," and it placed additional restrictions on the
6 On August 14, 2005, the District sent to the DNR a letter
requesting to modify the boundaries of the Muirhead Springs
Forest Preserve project. The District stated that it intended
to restore all of the land "to native prairie and pay
particular attention to restoration in the wetland areas and
near the naturally occurring springs." The District
further stated, however, that it could not restore all of the
land at once. The District therefore requested that it be
allowed to reduce the project from the original 531.8 acres
to 200 acres at the northern end of the property. The parcels
sold by the plaintiffs were not adjacent to these 200 acres.
7 On March 21, 2006, the DNR sent to the District a letter
approving the District's request to reduce the project to
200 acres. The DNR also approved a grant of $750, 000.
8 In 2013, Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) publicly announced
that it was planning a new transmission-line construction
project, the Grand Prairie Gateway Project (GPG Project),
that would run through Ogle, De Kalb, Kane, and Du Page
Counties. On December 2, 2013, ComEd filed with the Illinois
Commerce Commission (ICC) a petition seeking approval to
construct the GPG Project, under the Public Utilities Act
(220 ILCS 5/1-101 et seq. (West 2012)). In 2014, the
ICC granted the District's petition to intervene in the
proceedings. The District recommended that the GPG Project
transmission line go through the Muirhead Springs Forest
Preserve. ComEd raised a concern as to whether the line could
go through that property, in light of the restrictive
covenant in the 2005 deeds.
9 On June 30, 2014, the defendant attorney Gerald Hodge,
acting as counsel for the District, rerecorded the deeds for
the property at issue. The rerecorded deeds removed all of
the restrictive-covenant language.
10 On October 22, 2014, the ICC approved the GPG Project, but
it did not adopt the District's proposed route through
the Muirhead Springs Forest Preserve. Thereafter, owners of
land along the approved route petitioned the ICC to rehear
the matter and reconsider the ...