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Newspaper Clippings for
March, 1998

Waukegan News-Sun2 March 1998
IDOT learns condemnation can be costly
A Lake County jury has sent a message to the Illinois Department of Transportation – if you're going to throw your condemnation weight around, be ready to pay the price.
The jury awarded a $611,000 verdict to a developer last month for a parcel of land taken by IDOT through eminent domain as part of its plans for the future widening of Route 45.
The land in question was a 1 and one-half acre portion of the Forest Trail subdivision in Lindenhurst, off of Route 45 near Millburn on the eastern fringes of the McDonald Woods Forest Preserve. IDOT offered $75,000 for the parcel, sparking a two-year legal battle that ended with the jury verdict.
"My client is very pleased,' said Vernon Hills attorney Robert O'Donnell, who represented the Forest Trail Ltd. Partnership. "It shows that public agencies cannot take land without giving fair compensation. Too often individuals and businesses simply accept offers without trying to fight for what the property is really worth." O'Donnell said that as a result of the land condemnation, the developer lost seven lots in the subdivision.
An IDOT spokesperson in Springfield said the agency has not had the chance to review the decision and would not comment on the verdict.
According to long-term plans, the land would be part of a bypass route for the widening project to avoid impacting historic downtown Millburn.
Meanwhile, IDOT Program Planner Ed Wilson said there is no timetable for the widening and the project certainly isn't imminent. He said a study on the issue is still under way as part of the agency's planning projections for improvements needed by the year 2020.
Wilson described the land acquisition as "protective buying" to ensure the road right-of-way will be available when and if the project moves forward.
Approximately six acres of McDonald Woods would also be needed for the widening project, a scenario approved by the Forest District Board in 1994. Forest District Executive Director Steven Messerli said the land involved is not high quality and "there will be no negative environmental consequences or impact."
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