A key point at Monday night’s village council meeting was the board’s unanimous decision to settle with a local restaurateur and developer who filed suit last summer.

The first half of Monday’s open session was adjourned so board members could meet in private and decide whether to accept a settlement with Robert Marani, the developer of the Tuscan Lofts project, 7320-7322 Madison.

They returned to open session after a brief closed session and made a resolution to “execute” the settlement, as Mayor Anthony Calderone put it.¬†

Officials were sworn to secrecy and no details regarding the settlement are available at this point, although the Forest Park Review has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the village clerk to obtain a copy of the settlement.

Last June, Marani sued the village, accusing it of violating his civil rights, interfering in his business relationships, inflicting emotional distress and denying him equal protection under the law, the Review reported last month.

His condo development, Tuscan Lofts, is named in the suit.

Monday’s open session began with a debate between Calderone and Marty Tellalian,
commissioner of Public Property, over the merit of a decision to disallow an absent Rory Hoskins, commissioner of Accounts and Finance, from participating by remote access.

Hoskins was in Springfield for Gov. Pat Quinn’s inauguration and said he was “lobbying on Forest Park’s behalf.”

When he posed the idea of participating electronically or telephonically, Village Administrator Tim Gillian sought the opinion of Village Attorney Nick Peppers, who recommended that Hoskins not be included.

Peppers’ thinking was based on a 2009 village citation that states a board member needs to be away on “official business” to be included electronically or telephonically.

What’s more, Hoskins did not notify the village clerk 48 hours prior to his departure, which is mandated in the ordinance.

“Acquaint yourself with the parameters regarding our council meetings … just simply follow the requirements, that’s all,” Calderone told Tellalian and the other board members.

Tellalian countered, “When Commissioner Hoskins comes to us [on Thursday] when he brought this forward, I would have thought it would have been very easy to
accommodate that request, saying, ‘Here’s what we have to do: We can consider this official government business.'”

Tellalian said he felt Hoskins went to Springfield to network for resources.

He later commented that the decision discouraged “participatory government.”

At the meeting, the board also approved the payment of $881,206.37 in bills, announced an application for a grant related to 2008 storm damages, briefly discussed where to acquire fencing for a dog park on the Altenheim property, and the dedication of a park at 16th and Circle to the Reiger family.

Calderone also mentioned non-binding discussions the village was involved in to partner with Best Buy and a local church to create an electronic resource center at Forest Park Plaza.

He said the center would aim to bridge the digital divide for people of all ages.

“I don’t know if it’s going to materialize,” he said. “These are just serious discussions that are taking place.”