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Airport panel wants to protect residents’ rights

Will County Board Member Judy OgallR-Monee (left)

Will County Board Member Judy Ogalla, R-Monee (left)

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Updated: April 8, 2014 6:26AM



Will County’s four-month old ad hoc airport committee still is struggling to define its purpose, but during a meeting of the panel on Thursday, several members said they need to protect the rights of the residents in and around the footprint of the proposed airport near Peotone.

“If we don’t stand up for these people, who will?” said county board member Don Gould, R-Shorewood. “Their lives are being turned upside down.”

Board member Judy Ogalla R-Monee, whose property lies in the footprint, suggested that the part of the committee’s purpose should be to “maximize the protection of property rights” as well as the health, welfare and safety of the area.

It should be the committee’s agenda to protect residents who are left after it is built, she said. Residents feel they have no voice in Springfield because the area has been “so gerrymandered,” and divided into several legislative districts, she said.

“We need to make sure that Springfield knows we are concerned about the environment. We don’t want it to be like O’Hare Airport” where neighbors complain about the noise, she said.

Committee Chairman Don Moran, D-Romeoville, felt the word “maximize” was too strong and may suggest that they would sue the state to protect the landowners.

“If we do not step up and act strongly we will have another Senate Bill 20 rammed down our throats,” Ogalla said, referring to the legislation passed last summer which created a public-private partnership to build the airport and gave control of it to the state.

Committee members said they want IDOT to be sensitive to residents’ concerns and work within the law. If residents have problems with trespassing or other illegal activity, they should notify police, they said.

“Property right are very important. Do not lose sight that this is a monstrous project that needs your attention,” Beecher Mayor Greg Szymanski told the committee.

Eastern Will County municipal officials have discussed their concerns with Moran and other committee members, and Ogalla suggested a similar meeting with township officials.

The Will County Farm Bureau submitted a lengthy list of its concerns to the committee for those affected not only by the airport, but also the proposed Illiana Corridor and the Enbridge Energy pipeline.

Among their suggestions:

Landowners need to know who is going to be on their property and when, and should be allowed to accompany appraisers.

Before construction begins, landowners must be informed about physical changes to their property, what structures will be impacted, and what roads will be closed, and a field tile survey should be completed.

Well samples should be done before, during and after construction.

For five years after the project is completed, a person should be assigned to address any drainage issues that may occur.

Communication with landowners is a must.



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