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Local News

Will County Board member urges halt to airport condemnation cases

JOLIET – State condemnation cases regarding the planned South Suburban Airport should be halted while the project remains up in the air, a Will County Board member urged Thursday.

The controversial regional airport is among the major projects Gov. Bruce Rauner has put on hold pending further financial review.

Judy Ogalla, R-Monee, said unwilling property owners shouldn’t be forced to

sell land to the state if it’s uncertain whether the airport project will ever come to fruition.

Ogalla discussed the matter during the Will County Board’s Executive Committee meeting Thursday.

“To proceed with these condemnation cases is wrong,” Ogalla said. “To take property forcibly prior to any plan in place is wrong. There’s too many unknown factors.”

Eight condemnation cases are pending, with Illinois Department of Transportation officials attempting to take land needed for the future airport, Ogalla said.

The board passed a resolution in 2005 opposing quick take condemnation, but the County Board has yet to take a stance on condemnation cases, said County Board Speaker Jim Moustis, R-Frankfort. He agreed with passing a resolution, but wondered if such a move would give the public the impression the board favors stopping cases involving willing sellers.

“What if the case was agreed upon to establish a fair and equitable price? Should we be stopping that?” Moustis said. “I’d be careful with how it is worded.”

If Illinois officials were to withdraw a condemnation case, they could not file again, said Mary Tatroe, chief of the Civil Division with the Will County State’s Attorney’s office.

“Maybe we could [pass a resolution] asking that there’s a moratorium on any further action until a decision is made [by Rauner],” offered board member Chuck Maher, R-Naperville.

One family’s case is scheduled to be heard April 30 in Will County, Ogalla said. The 100-year-old property has been in the family for five generations, she said.

The Will County Board could vote on the resolution during its board meeting Thursday.

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