Jury prices acres at $790,000: Will County (IL) News, 7/8/06

More than five times Preserve District's offer

By Cindy Wojdyla Cain

For only the fourth time in its history, the Will County [Illinois] Forest Preserve District has completed an eminent domain case with a jury verdict.

A jury recently ruled that the district should pay $790,000 for 25.77 acres that would provide public access to Lake Chaminwood Preserve in Channahon Township, said district Executive Director Mike Pasteris.

The board's land acquisition committee discussed the case in a closed session Wednesday, but voted in public session to accept the judgment and to reject a final settlement offer from the land owners.

In late November, Chicago attorney Daniel Albers had complained at a committee meeting about the way the district was handling the case. Albers is representing Jeff Dunteman, one of the owners of the acreage off Shepley Road. He said the district's settlement offer of $143,000 was an "embarrassment."

He said the land is taxed at a $650,000 value and the owners received an offer of $800,000 shortly before the district filed eminent domain proceedings.

Typically, the forest preserve district settles eminent domain cases before a jury sets a price, Pasteris said. The forest preserve district has an informal policy that it will file eminent domain cases only with willing sellers who cannot agree on a price with the district.

But Albers said his clients were willing sellers until the district offered a "low-ball" price for the land. He could not be reached to comment on the jury's judgment in the case. Pasteris said only about 40 or so eminent domain cases had ever been filed by the district.

Will County News: http://www.topix.net/county/will-il