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Woodstock OKs eminent domain for properties near proposed roundabout

Negotiations with some property owners stalled

The Woodstock City Council meets May 7.
The Woodstock City Council meets May 7.

The Woodstock City Council has agreed to move forward with eminent domain proceedings in an effort to acquire land needed for a roundabout project.

The construction project is proposed to take place at the five-way intersection of Lake, Madison and South streets. The city has to take control of six parcels in the area to make way for construction.

Woodstock entered into “good faith” negotiations with the property owners, but the two sides have yet to come to an agreement for several parcels, according to city documents.

Negotiations have stalled with the owners of 219 Madison St., a piece of property that is three-hundredths of an acre, plus a 0.017-acre area that temporarily would be used for easement before being returned to the owner after construction.

The other area set for eminent domain is 311 Lake St., formerly the site of Hunt’s Service Station, which is out of business.

The two lots with the same common address are a total of 0.036 acres. The concrete service station building is on one lot and a garage is on the other.

Ken Hunt’s heirs own the property and use the garage for storage, according to city documents.

“Without securing the necessary right of way ... the city cannot be included in an [Illinois Department of Transportation] scheduled bid opening,” Public Works Director Jeff Van Landuyt wrote in a memo to the council.

Eminent domain is a legal process that allows municipalities to acquire private property for public use. The municipality must make an effort negotiate with landowners on a fair price for the subject properties before moving forward.

If that cannot be accomplished, a judge will decide on an appropriate price at the end of eminent domain proceedings, according to city documents.

The eminent domain process could take up to a year and a half, according to city documents.

The other option is for the city to work with the state of Illinois to gain approval for a “quick-take” process, which would require the city to ask local state representatives to pass legislation that gives the city authority to take the property for the project, according to city documents.

Both processes ultimately would rely on a court to determine a fair price for the properties, according to city documents.

The city voted this month to begin the eminent domain process and also will reach out to state representatives to discuss the “quick-take” option, according to city documents.

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