The Illinois Department of Transportation (“IDOT”) is busy appraising property and making initial written offers of just compensation to owners on two large road projects in McHenry County:
–Illinois Route 31 from Route 176 to Route 120 in McHenry County. This road project is anticipated to consist of roadway widening and reconstruction to provide two lanes in each direction separated by a median, bicycle and pedestrian accommodations, and intersection and drainage improvements.
–Illinois Route 47 from Route 14 to Route 120 in McHenry County. This road project is anticipated to include reconstruction and construction of additional lanes, intersection improvements, and culvert replacement.
Illinois Road Projects and Eminent Domain
Road projects many times involve the taking of private property for streets, highways, freeways, and tollways. Most often, private property is sought by IDOT, but can also be taken by the Illinois State Toll Highway (Tollway), cities or counties. Road projects can involve takings for uses that include multi-use paths, additional through lanes or turn lanes, new traffic signals, noise abatement walls, or detention ponds. Ryan & Ryan currently represents and defends private property owners across Illinois in every conceivable type of road project. The types of takings can vary from partial takings (both temporary and permanent) to full takings of the entire property.
Like many public improvement projects in Illinois, government entities undertaking road projects have the power of eminent domain. “Eminent Domain” is the legal term that refers to the government’s power to take private property against the owner’s will and convert it to a public use. The act of exercising this eminent domain power is commonly referred to as “condemnation.” The government body taking the private property by eminent domain is commonly referred to as the “condemnor” or “condemning authority.” The Illinois eminent domain process is described on our website in detail here.
Typically, when an owner first learns that a condemning authority is planning to take their property, the first question is: How can I protect myself and my property? In Illinois property owners have many rights when it comes to eminent domain. The power of eminent domain is limited by the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article 1, Section 15 of the Illinois Constitution. The Fifth Amendment requires the condemning authority pay just compensation to the property owner. Likewise, the Illinois Constitution provides just compensation must be paid whenever there is a taking or damaging of private property. The Illinois Constitution also provides that just compensation shall be assessed by a jury. When eminent domain is used by IDOT or any other condemning authority for a road project, there are several procedures that must be followed under the Illinois Eminent Domain Act before any private property can be taken. While these procedures protect Illinois property owners, it is difficult in Illinois to stop eminent domain projects for roads. The more typical issue in eminent domain cases involving road projects is the amount of just compensation to be paid to the property owner.
What is Quick Take?
IDOT can use its “quick take” power when acquiring private property for a road project. Quick take is a procedure that allows the condemning authority to take private property and begin construction of the project before final just compensation has been determined and paid to the property owner. During the “quick-take hearing” the court (judge) determines the amount of preliminary just compensation that is due the property owner. Upon payment of that amount, the condemning authority gets title and possession to the property. The case continues, though, and at trial, the jury is not told the amount of preliminary compensation that was paid. If the verdict is more than the preliminary compensation, the condemning authority must pay the difference, including interest. If the verdict is less, the property owner must refund the difference.
By the time an owner becomes aware that the condemning authority is going to take their property or certainly by the time an owner receives the written offer of just compensation to purchase the property, the condemning authority has assembled its own team of experts including lawyers, appraisers, and engineers. Hiring an experienced eminent domain attorney at Ryan & Ryan puts the property owner on equal footing with the condemning authority.
For more information on how Ryan & Ryan can help, please call us for a free consultation and we can explain how we can maximize the amount of just compensation property owners are entitled to under Illinois law. The link below provides some past road project results we have achieved for our clients.