Barrington Hills horse farm owners continue to fight Cook County takeover of land

A judge has ruled the Forest Preserve District of Cook County can take control of the 400-acre property after a lengthy foreclosure process

Barrington Hills horse farm
Barrington Hills horse farm

The owners of a sprawling horse farm in Barrington Hills said they’ve turned to growing hemp on the property in an effort to keep Cook County from taking control of the land.

Richard and Meryl Squires Cannon bought the 400-acre Horizon Farm at the height of the real estate boom but later fell into foreclosure. After a decade-long court battle, a judge last week ruled the Forest Preserve District of Cook County can take ownership of the land, according to the Chicago Tribune.

But the Cannons plan to appeal the rule, saying they have started growing just-legalized crop on the property ito help pay off the mortgage, according to the Tribune.

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The couple bought the farm in 2006 for $19 million, taking out a $14.5 million loan from Amcore Bank to finance the deal. But the couple later defaulted on the loan and the property entered foreclosure.

The forest preserves bought the farm out of foreclosure for $14 million in 2013 and briefly opened it as public land. Legal challenges to the foreclosure proceedings, however, closed the land to public use and kept its future in question.

Judge Margaret Ann Brennan last week ruled in favor of the forest preserves and blasted the Cannons for choosing to challenge the foreclosure rather than seeking to pay off their $14 million debt. [Chicago Tribune]Joe Ward