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Hearing to be Tuesday on airport land condemnation lawsuit

Updated: February 25, 2013 5:50PM



Members of an eastern Will County family are fighting the state’s attempt to take their land for the south suburban airport project.

The Barbour family attorney, William Ryan of Rosemont, has filed a motion to dismiss three condemnation cases involving 300 acres near the intersection of Will Center Road and Eagle Lake Road in Will Township.

“The basis of our motion is it’s premature for IDOT to be condemning land before they have final FAA (airport) approval,” Ryan said.

A hearing on the motion will be at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday before Judge Susan O’Leary in the Will County Courthouse Annex.

The state has purchased land from willing sellers for years, but now it is attempting to use eminent domain laws to take land from unwilling sellers. In such cases a court determines how much the land is worth. The Barbour family condemnation cases were filed in 2009.

Susan Shea, director of the Division of Aeronautics for the Illinois Department of Transportation, is expected to testify during Tuesday’s hearing.

So far the state has spent almost $38 million to buy 2,667 acres from willing sellers for the project. IDOT officials say they need 5,800 for an inaugural airport footprint.

If built, the airport would be 35 miles south of the Chicago Loop, 42 miles south/southeast of Chicago O’Hare International Airport and 29 miles south of Chicago Midway International Airport. It would be surrounded by the eastern Will County communities of Beecher, Crete, Monee, Peotone and University Park.

The need for a third Chicago-area airport has been debated for years. And in recent years, Will County officials have vied for control of the airport with former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who resigned from office in November. He pleaded guilty earlier this month to federal charges of misusing campaign funds.

No airport government plan has been approved by the state so far.



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