5/30/2006

Reappraisal is set in eminent domain: Chicago (IL) Tribune, 5/11/06

By Dennis Sullivan

With eminent domain proceedings against an elderly couple's property set to begin on June 5, a Forest Preserve District committee has acknowledged the district's appraisal is three years behind the times.

Land Acquisition Committee members voted unanimously last week to order a new appraisal of the 66-acre property in southwest Will County.

The action responds to concerns raised by attorney Mark O'Toole, who represents octogenarian property owners Lawrence and Charlotte Domagalla and their adult son, Randy.

O'Toole contends the district's last offer works "an undue hardship" on his clients because land prices "have exploded" in the past 30 months.

The Domagalla property is southeast of the village of Manhattan, which is undergoing significant expansion.

The district wants the land — approximately half of the 125-acre Domagalla farm — to provide public access at the Laughton Preserve's north end, and to buffer the floodplain north of Forked Creek's centerline in the preserve.

The new appraisal is the first ordered by the district since September 2003, when commissioners authorized the eminent domain lawsuit against the Domagallas.

Jim Moustis (R-Frankfort), who chairs the district's Finance Committee, said the new appraisal would give the district "the flexibility of at least making another offer that is more in line with current market values."

The district uses eminent domain when negotiations with "willing sellers" have deadlocked, officials said. In the legal proceeding, a court official ultimately establishes a price. The district, however, typically settles most cases out of court.


Chicago Tribune: http://www.chicagotribune.com