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Lawmakers approve helping Lake in the Hills with runway land dispute
By John Patterson | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 5/30/2008 2:36 PM | Updated: 5/30/2008 10:36 PM

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SPRINGFIELD -- State lawmakers are trying to make it easier for Lake in the Hills to move ahead with a runway construction project despite a lingering dispute with a neighboring property owner.

The Illinois House voted 68-45 to give final approval to a provision that would let Lake in the Hills take the property and begin work while legal proceedings continue over a fair price for the land.

"This is very important to Lake in the Hills, Crystal Lake and McHenry County as well," said state Rep. Mike Tryon, a Crystal Lake Republican who sponsored the proposal to give the village immediate access to the land.

The proposal now goes to Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The village would not have the authority to take the land unless and until he signs it into law, which might not occur for several weeks.

The village wants a triangular, three-quarter-acre parcel on the north side of the Lake in the Hills Airport's runway, east of Pyott Road. Village officials said they need the land to meet Federal Aviation Administration requirements for open space alongside the airport's single runway.

The property is one of several the village is acquiring as part of a $23 million plan to improve safety at the airport. The plan also includes re-aligning Pyott Road on the airport's east side to gain more runway clearance.

The parcel in question is owned by the Athans Co. Its owner has previously accused the village of trying to lowball him on the land.

The village filed an eminent domain lawsuit against Athans in October after months of negotiations failed to produce an agreement over a sales price. In March, a judge refused to dismiss the lawsuit.

The village, working off of three independent appraisals, offered the company $430,000 for the land, along with concessions such as a new access point to Pyott Road for the company's remaining land near the airport and a promise to consider a development plan for that site.

Athans was seeking as much as $560,000 for the property, along with those and other concessions.

Calls to the village and Athans were not immediately returned Friday.