We're pretty sure that the winding tale of Keystone Montessori and its battle with River Forest village government over taxes, zoning and the American Way isn't over. That despite a court ruling last week granting the North Avenue Montessori school tax-exempt status.
Typically private schools are tax exempt. But 20 years ago in a strong-arm move, village government "urged" the school to sign a pact committing it to pay property taxes in exchange for a zoning variation allowing the school to continue renovating its new site in a commercial building on North Avenue.
On the losing end of the legal argument at the moment, River Forest complains that the financially-strapped school has chosen "to fight the village instead of working together in earnest to find a way to relocate to an appropriate location." It is not specified if that location is in River Forest where Keystone now has deep roots. It is clear that, with a new TIF on North Avenue, the village wants Keystone to scram. For its part, the school hints strongly that it wants a refund of the property taxes it has been paying over all those years.
This was a screwy, botched deal from the start. That we are at this point isn't a surprise. That it took so long to percolate into a crisis is a head-scratcher.
Answer Book 2019
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