LaFayette to pay the Browns $20,000

By John A. Ballentine
[email protected]

According to attorney Justin Raver, of Barash & Everett, a four and one-half year lawsuit concluded November 2 with a mediation settlement between the Village of LaFayette and defendants Jerod and wife Dana Brown, of rural Galva.
The mediation agreement has the village paying farmers Jerod and Dana Brown $20,000 for damages and legal fees they incurred as a result of the lawsuit. This amount does not include LaFayette’s expenditures for village attorney David Cover.

The lawsuit put the village’s right to regulate activity within its borders against farming rights. What spurred the lawsuit was the Browns’ intention to farm 57 acres of ground they purchased in 2011 at auction, of the former LaFayette Nursery land.

Six acres of the Browns’ land extended into the Village of LaFayette. On April 2, 2012 the LaFayette board of trustees enforced a newly passed ordinance prohibiting commercial farming within the village’s borders.

The Browns planted the six acres on May 22, 2012 and then received from LaFayette on June 1 a notice to abate. LaFayette then filed a complaint in court against the Browns on June 6.

In the Tenth Circuit Court of Illinois, Circuit Judge Scott Shore ruled in favor of LaFayette, but stipulated the Browns could complete the farming process of 2012 because the notice to abate was sent to the Browns after they had planted their crop.

The Browns appealed the Circuit Court’s decision to the Third District Appellate Court of Illinois. There, two of three justices reversed the Circuit Court’s ruling.

LaFayette appealed that decision to the Illinois Supreme Court where the high court rejected hearing the case. Therefore, the Appellate Court ruling was final in the lawsuit.

The Browns then filed in Circuit Court for approximately $39,000 in damages and legal fees, in 2015. Attempts between the Browns and LaFayette led to the mediation process.

The News has filed on October 27 a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) with the village, to which there has been no response. The FOIA requested LaFayette’s expenditures for their village attorney legal fees.

A copy of the FOIA was sent again on November 4 and once more there has been no response within the five day period the village has to by law respond.

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2 thoughts on “LaFayette to pay the Browns $20,000

  • November 18, 2016 at 11:34 am
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    This is the direct result of complete incompetence by individuals with zero economic sensibility. This is a town that has suffered from years of lingering water issues and abandoned properties, littered with trash and debris, that continue to be ignored. Instead, the town board focuses their time and financial resources (or lack there of) on the farming of a vacant lot on the edge of town that had absolutely no negative impact on anyone’s lives. Prior to the Brown’s ownership on the property, the nursery lot was a cesspool, having not been attend to for years, had been infiltrated with trash from slob residents, dead animal carcasses, and gigantic holes partially filled with rain water which became a breeding ground for mosquitos. The Brown’s acquired this property and turned it into something, that wasn’t a complete eye or nesting grounds for rodents and insects. Ignoring the real needs of the town, the La Fayette village board decided it was best that they spend what little finances the town had on legal fees and time in court over some miniscule farming on a side of town that experiences zero traffic. The brilliance within the board tried manipulating other villagers, illustrating the unlikely harm from the chemicals being sprayed on the crops. Meanwhile, the entire town is and always has been surrounded by corn and bean fields, exposing everyone within this vicinity only to have zero health concerns or evidence of harmful exposure. Yet, the town board continued to pursue legal action against the Browns, while ignoring the several vacated lots and neglected properties that are consumed with junk and debris. Now, several thousands of dollars and wasted man hours later, the town that suffers significantly with economic resources and consumable water, is responsible for allocating their finances to a farmer who did nothing but invest his time and resources into cleaning up a small wasted part of town. Not a single individual within the community has had their lives altered in any way due to the farming, and now, because of the lack of competence and understanding of prioritization, the town remains impaired both visually, physically, and financially. As a former resident of many years in this small village, I’m disgusted by what I’ve witnessed over the years, and I hope this comment reaches the appropriate parties with a realization that not every one should be qualified to make town decisions, nor be supported to ignore real issues that exist within a township. Stop allowing simple minded ideas coming into fruition, and start doing something right for the communities. The board in its entirety that is responsible for this pursuit of legal action and waste of tax dollars, should start out by issuing an apology to everyone on their poor decision making and step down from their positions because there are still people that exist within who take pride in their lives, their homes, and their community.

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  • November 18, 2016 at 11:43 am
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    Nice work, clowns! Excellent job losing tens of thousands of dollars that you didn’t have perusing a meaningless lawsuit. Let me ask you this, how are your roads doing? How’s that water tower doing? Are your residents able to save their hard earned dollars from constantly buying bottled water because you fixed the water issues? Did you clean up the neglected properties and burnt down home that is infested with dangerous debris and harmful substances? Don’t worry, I won’t hold my breath, unless I’m walking by the unofficial junk yards of the community.

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