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
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
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
"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."