After weeks of public pressure, the South Barrington Park District board has decided not to sell 34 acres of undeveloped land to a religious group.
The board on Wednesday night voted 4-0 to cancel its pending contract with Maywood-based Fourth Avenue Gospel Building Inc., a nonprofit operation that’s owned and operated by a local congregation of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church.
Fourth Avenue representatives intended to build a house of worship and a school.
Park district voters in November approved holding an auction to unload the property, which sometimes is called “Area N.” Fourth Avenue Gospel Building was the lone bidder, offering about $1.7 million for the property near Bartlett Road and Route 59.
Last month, people opposed to the plan — including many residents of the nearby Woods of South Barrington development — demonstrated against the deal at park district headquarters. They’ve cited the proposed use of the land and some of the church’s practices among their concerns.
Some residents had been seeking a restraining order to stop the sale. A closing set for late last month was indefinitely postponed.
Earlier this week, a Fourth Avenue Gospel representative said his organization expected the park district to honor the contract. A representative couldn’t immediately be reached Thursday morning.
Although the pending sale was scrapped, the future of the property is uncertain.
The referendum allowed the park district to hold three auctions in a year for the property, Executive Director Jay Morgan has said.
The board was one member short of its usual complement Wednesday night. Park District Commissioner Shelby Elias resigned before the meeting.
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