Champaign County Board approves use of eminent domain

Champaign County Board approves use of eminent domain

URBANA — Champaign County Board members voted Thursday night to authorize the use of eminent domain in the event that negotiations break down on the purchase of property for the long-debated Olympian Drive project north of Urbana.

The board voted 15-9 to grant County Engineer Jeff Blue and legal counsel the authority to acquire the property by condemnation if a mutually acceptable price for the land cannot be reached by Oct. 1.

There was virtually no debate on the issue, although Republican board members had spent much of their pre-meeting caucus complaining about the use of eminent domain. The nine votes against authorizing its use came from eight Republicans and one Democrat, Pattsi Petrie of Champaign. Twelve Democrats and three Republicans — Gary Maxwell, Max Mitchell and Jon Schroder — voted to authorize the use of eminent domain.

The Olympian Drive project, which involves building a bypass connecting a north Urbana industrial area with Interstate 57, has been a controversial issue for years. Although the city of Urbana is building the project, the land is in the county and therefore has required county approval at virtually every step.

Mahomet Republican Stephanie Holderfield said she voted against the use of eminent domain because it is a property-rights issue.

"I won't under any circumstances vote to seize somebody's land rights. I'm absolutely against that," she said. "Too often I've seen eminent domain end very badly. I just think it sends a loud and clear message when government seizes property for maybe not the right reason.

"This is a good reason, but it's not reason enough to utilize eminent domain. I'm against eminent domain under any circumstances."

Board members accepted a gift of two large photographs of the county courthouse from former board member Steve Beckett of Urbana. The first image, in black and white, is believed to have been taken in 1922. The second one, taken at the same angle by News-Gazette photographer John Dixon, shows the courthouse in color and includes the recent $27 million addition to the building.

Beckett said the photos illustrate what can be done when elected officials work together.

"My wife and I hope that when you come into this meeting room and you see these photos, you'll be reminded what you working together can accomplish for the citizens of our county," Beckett said.

Dixon added, "One of the fun parts of my job is capturing history, and history is made every day in Champaign-Urbana. I like the (older) photograph on the left. There are pretty colors in the one on the right, it's a pretty building. I love the historic nature of the photo on the left.

"But that's the nice thing about the picture that I took because in 100 years someone's going to dust that print off and say, 'What a neat old building.'"

Officials also held a drawing at the meeting where two- and four-year terms were awarded to the county board candidates on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The board also approved a change in the City of Champaign Precinct 5 polling place, moving the election station from Snyder Hall on the University of Illinois campus to a new student dining facility at 301 E. Gregory Drive, C.

Among the board members absent from Thursday's meeting were Democrats Carol Ammons and Michael Richards, and Republican Jeff Kibler.

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rsp wrote on August 23, 2012 at 11:08 pm

Among the board members absent from Thursday's meeting were Democrats Carol Ammons and Michael Richards, and Republican Jeff Kibler.

I appreciate having this information included. I was wondering if there is someplace to look up their ongoing attendance records? It seems like some of the same names keep coming up.

fordtruck wrote on August 24, 2012 at 12:08 am

Minutes from meetings are available at:

http://www.champaigncountyclerk.com/county_board/meetings/2012_meetings/...

Attendance is included as part of the minutes.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on August 24, 2012 at 3:08 am
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I'm glad the rationale was included:  "The Olympian Drive project, which involves building a bypass connecting a north Urbana industrial area with Interstate 57..."

 

The north industrial area starts at an Interstate interchange (Lincoln & 74). You can take Lincoln to Somer Drive to North Oak Street to Bradley and pretty much cover the entire area.

To the north, Leverett Road connects US-45 to the I-57 interchange at Market Street. In between Ford-Harris Road connects north Urbana to Olympian's I-57 interchange via North Prospect.

Of course, there's also an Interstate that connects north Urbana to the other Interstate.

If the idea is to make more bike paths & pedestrian walkways ... who would walk a mile north of town to walk 3 miles across town? I just don't get it.

 

As a cyclist & pedestrian, I'd rather see a safer route at the Cunningham underpass. And isn't there a dire need for repaving Windsor Road's dead concrete?

 

 

EL YATIRI wrote on August 24, 2012 at 4:08 am
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Rob you are thinking sensibly.  But this is all about special interests who are getting what they want.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on August 24, 2012 at 6:08 am
alabaster jones 71 wrote on August 24, 2012 at 5:08 am
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I have been conflicted about this project since the day I first learned about it.

On one hand, residential growth on the north side of town has not been nearly as substantial as it has been in West Champaign and Savoy.  I don't know how we can expect the growth potential of northern area of town to be fully realized until there is a road north of the interstate that connects Champaign and Urbana.  And yeah, I know that area may be pretty bare right now, but I remember when you could say the same about Duncan and Windsor.  Boundaries expand, but they need arterial roads.

On the other hand, as Rob mentioned, there are some significant infrastructure issues in C-U that we will also have to find money for.  Also, the eminent domain aspect makes me very uncomfortable.

pattsi wrote on August 24, 2012 at 8:08 am

A point of information that has had very little daylight--the land in this area is over 50% Drummer and Flanagan soils--the best of the best even though all the county soils are best. So if one stops to reflect that this project will use some of these lands for both Olympian and Lincoln, this reduces these best of best soils.  Next will come development that will cover all of the land in the area. Once the land/soils are covered, there is no turning back. Last aspect to remember, right here where we live is the best soils globally then Ukraine and Argentina, which have slightly different growing climates. Maybe it is important to include in our conversations about development a factor concerning soils. This is how LESA on the federal level was established when Eisenhower built the national highway system and was marching through all of the farmland to do so. It was decided that there was a need for some type of analysis system to determine where the best soils existed and try to protect them.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on August 24, 2012 at 8:08 am
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Thanks Pattsi. I'd vote for you.

just_wondering wrote on August 24, 2012 at 8:08 am

Being a realtor, Stephanie Holderfield "voted against the use of eminent domain because it is a property-rights issue". Right... it's her political beliefs, not her paycheck she's worried about...

Sid Saltfork wrote on August 24, 2012 at 8:08 am

I have to agree with Rob on this one.  What is a reasonable price for the land?  How is that determined?  Who determines it?  Back home years ago, one of my uncles lost his land under similar circumstances.  The price was determined at a lower price than if he had sold it to another farmer.  It basically was confiscation of his property. 

EL YATIRI wrote on August 24, 2012 at 10:08 am
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Since they already decided on ED even before negotiations with the owners are exhausted, they will be sure to low-ball them since they will get the property anyway.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on August 24, 2012 at 11:08 am
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It's not over yet.

 

I learned a lot in a Quixotic campaign against Laurel Prussing, in 2009. One thing I learned is that many of her ardent supporters promised to vote for her "one last time." These were people, exlusively women as I recall, who'd felt a fealty at some point. They were smart, they were informed. They were barely hanging on to a loyalty forged in an earlier time.

To a woman, they told me that Laurel had assured them 2009 would be the last hurrah.

I think a Democratic challenger could unseat her in the primary. Many would consider it payback for Mike Kelleher/Tim Johnson 2000, or Prussing/Satterthwaite 2005.

 

 

pattsi wrote on August 24, 2012 at 12:08 pm

In my rush to post this morning, I forgot to include a concept that is rarely discussed among the communities and county--revenue sharing. If there was a willingness to do so, then development along Olympian and Lincoln would not reach the present heights of importance. The concept of revenue sharing would enhance the use of lands already developed and where intrastructure exists. Yes, I understand that someone will argue that one community might get more of the revenue sharing than might happen if that community controlled the development. The counter to this arguement is even though the calculations for revenue sharing will not be exact to the penny, but what might be lost is a fraction of the cost to a community to shoulder the whole development cost. In addition using this approach, we could pay more attention to preserving our valuable, meanig economic development, agriculture products and tands without stopping development and promoting infill.

A guessing discussion as to what might be paid for the farmland is just that--a guessing game.

buzorro wrote on August 24, 2012 at 1:08 pm

eminent domain - Some think that since they hold the deed to the property that they own the land.

EL YATIRI wrote on August 25, 2012 at 12:08 pm
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They think they are free and have "inalienable rights", but they are just brain-washed serfs.

Handyman wrote on August 26, 2012 at 1:08 am

This is more proof,how much do you need,that you don't actually own your land!You may have a deed but this is evidence that we are only serfs and when the Government decides they no longer want to lease the land to you,after paying taxes all those years on it,they'll take it from you.Of course they will claim to give you "fair market value"which of course is estimated by whom they decide to hire to do the appraisal.Which will be lower then real market value. When are us subjects of the king going to rise up and end this charade of this supposed  "we the people" government?

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on August 26, 2012 at 4:08 am
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Gosh, some of you really hate the Constitution.

natebaux wrote on August 26, 2012 at 11:08 am

so, by your suggestion, does Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, "hate" the constitution too?

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on August 26, 2012 at 11:08 am
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Just the Takings Clause.*  

 

Kelo is one of my favorite cases - thoroughly reserved, deferring to the states, the legislative branch and the Constitution itself. And yet EVERYONE calls it "judicial activism."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*And heck, she only wanted to add a little bit of language to it, I'm sure.

 

But until a 5-4 vote reinterprets the amendment process, adding language to any clause still requires approval by three-fourths of the states.

pattsi wrote on August 26, 2012 at 6:08 pm

And to me the bigger lesson learned related to urban planning from the Kelo decision has to do with the fact of pushing an elderly lady out of her long-term residence in the middle of a block wanted by a developer and applauded by the city to generate economic development only to have the developer pull out after the decision and the space remains undeveloped.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelo_v._City_of_New_Londonog

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on August 27, 2012 at 10:08 am
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That's one hell of a sentence, Pattsi.

 

But I disagree. It's fine to feel emotional about people. It's fine to disagree with the effect of a court decision. Judges don't necessarily like the effects of decisions either. But you can't ignore the Constitution just because it feels good.

 

Rather, you must amend the Constitution. Or simply do like a lot of state governments did in response to Kelo: Make a law specifically forbidding the undesirable action.

 

We're getting away from the point of this story though, which is Olympian Drive. I think we all agree that eminent domain should not be employed in this case.

pattsi wrote on August 27, 2012 at 11:08 am

Yep, a bit of James Joyce. True the response has wandered, but I inserted as an example that flexing eminent domaine many times leads to nowhere. I am not ready to ignore the constitution.

EL YATIRI wrote on August 28, 2012 at 1:08 am
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Justice is more important than the US Constitution.  US history is loaded with examples of injustce and unjust constitutional rulings by the Supreme Court.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on August 28, 2012 at 9:08 am
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Without the rule of law "justice" is the opinion of the guy with the most ammo.

 

Yes, the Supreme Court has often ruled unpopularly, and perpetuated bad policy. Dred Scott is a great example. Like Kelo, everyone seems to think it that was a bad ruling. It was the correct ruling. The Constitution was the culprit — especially the three fifths clause. Subsequently, we corrected the problem via the proper method: the 13th Amendment. 

 

EL YATIRI wrote on August 29, 2012 at 8:08 pm
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Exactly.  The Constitution has been imperfect before as well as the Supreme Court.  And yes throughout history sometimes the side with the most ammo decides what is just, like the civil war?

gollygeewillikers wrote on August 28, 2012 at 12:08 pm

eminent domain- a good reason never to be to proud about finally buying or owning that piece of heaven.   Or...it just goes to show that all we ever do "owning" the land is paying rent to government and interest to the bank.  You only get to retain the value of what you paid and sold it for and nothing else is ever yours to hold onto.  Try having this conversation with the people up in the northwest of Illinois where new Route 20 is planned.  Talk about cutting through and up land, valleys, and homes.  OD has nothing on it.    

parkmymeterelsewhere wrote on August 28, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Lost in all conversations/deliberations/altercations/etc.  are the following:

the earlier failed attempt to establish the land fill because of the underground aquifer

the subsequent discrimination against those residential/farmng landowners to NOT  consider the use of land owned/operated by industrial entities east and west of the saline area

the refusal to allow Judah Christian to build a new school on north lincoln because of their tax-free status and the subsequent WASTE of the 75 acre parcel now owned by Cross Construction.

now comes the vendetta of eminent domain with curved road beds intended to immediately generate waste parcels all along both Lincoln and Olympian routes.

If this isn't civily incorrect as viewed by our legal system then we are dead in the water as a society that reflects absolutely no respect for anything.

 

parkmymeterelsewhere wrote on August 28, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Lost in all conversations/deliberations/altercations/etc.  are the following:

the earlier failed attempt to establish the land fill because of the underground aquifer

the subsequent discrimination against those residential/farmng landowners to NOT  consider the use of land owned/operated by industrial entities east and west of the saline area

the refusal to allow Judah Christian to build a new school on north lincoln because of their tax-free status and the subsequent WASTE of the 75 acre parcel now owned by Cross Construction.

now comes the vendetta of eminent domain with curved road beds intended to immediately generate waste parcels all along both Lincoln and Olympian routes.

If this isn't civily incorrect as viewed by our legal system then we are dead in the water as a society that reflects absolutely no respect for anything.

 

sahuoy wrote on August 29, 2012 at 4:08 pm

PRICE FIXING plain and simple or as is in this matter RIGHTS FIXING. Without knowing any details of projections expected, offers made, profits and losses to both land owners and the new Land Lordless, one still questions what is fair and equittable to exchange the ownership. Now that farmers having had politicians pad their pockets with having done away with property taxes no longer owed when farm property passes to a family member who does not owe and never will, the value of the land is priceless, its a guaranteed pay check with the government pay offs to plant or not to plant. Eminent Domain is a necessary tool for the better good, all for one, one for all prosperity of America and or in this case, Champaign county.

parkmymeterelsewhere wrote on August 29, 2012 at 6:08 pm

The issue here is not one of which family member benefits from tax-free inheritance but

the simple destruction of a small farming community way of lfe; it is totally unecessary

for society to displace one successful form of industry for another less successful and inherently wasteful sceme as has been laid out by all the proponents for olympian.