Can anybody out there help?

It all began over 15 years ago. A friend of mine got me a job at a cute neighborhood tavern & grill in downtown Cary, Illinois. I worked there for 9 years bartending, waitressing & learning the business. In 1999, I finally persuaded the owner to sell me not only the flourishing business, but also the property, a small lot with the bar and two apartments above. On January 1st, 2000, I became the very proud owner of a fun little place I called The Cuckoo's Nest.

I had succeeded at "The American Dream". Small-town girl makes good.

Over five and a half years later, business is good. I have done some remodeling & updating. I have made The Cuckoo's Nest a great, comfortable place to eat lunch, listen to bands, or sing some home-grown karaoke. It is a financially sound business on a lucrative property on a main thoroughfare. Here is where the nightmare begins.

Last week, another business owner on my block asked me if anyone had come to see me about buying my property. I told him no and he filled me in on all the rumors about some "big-wig" developers who were going to tear down all our properties (about 13) to build a strip mall. I went to see a few other neighboring business owners only to learn that they had been made offers on their properties. The offers were for about 1/4 of their values and ZERO compensation for their businesses. Nobody has bothered to offer me a dime.

After some research, I have found out why. It is called Eminent Domain.

Friday morning, I went directly to The Village of Cary's zoning and planning commissioner. He told me that yes, they were planning on "redeveloping" a large parcel and that I am smack dab in the middle of it. After being uncomfortable with my barrage of questions, he called in the Mayor of Cary, Mr. Steve Lamal.

Mr. Lamal told me that he had been courting developers to buy "your whole block" and found one that he wanted to "work with". He told me that in the end he would use "condemnation" on any and all holdouts who would not sell. Mr. Lamal also proceeded to remind me that he, as Mayor and Cary Liquor Commissioner, holds my municipal liquor license which could be rescinded at any time. Veiled threat? You betcha.

Some of us are getting together, but we are not sure just what to do.

Can anybody help?

Cathy Joseph: cuckoo1@earthlink.net