When the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) contacts property owners regarding its authority to take all or part of their business or residential property due to a road-widening project, intersection project or other highway project, IDOT has likely already spent millions of dollars preparing for and gaining approval for the project. Property owners who face these types of condemnation actions will likely be incapable of challenging and fighting IDOT alone.
When facing a partial taking or the impressment of an easement on your property by IDOT, it is important to consult an experienced attorney who can effectively assert your rights and ensure you receive the full benefits to which you are entitled. Contact condemnation lawyer Bryan P. Lynch for a free consultation.
Why Is IDOT Taking My Property?
There are several different categories of property interest that the state may choose to take in an eminent domain and condemnation case. The majority of these projects involve some form of road construction. Widening a road or intersection in a rural or suburban area can mean taking part of one's business property, taking the front yard off a person's home, or asserting the right to use a property owner's property for a number of years or permanently.
- Partial takings: Partial takings by IDOT generally mean that IDOT is seeking to acquire the ownership of a portion of your property— such as a strip of land 10 or 15 feet deep — as part of its road-widening or intersection expansion project. While the property IDOT seeks to take may not alone have tremendous monetary value, taking a portion of a property can have a substantial negative impact on the utility and value of the balance of the property not taken. Beyond the burdens of losing your front yard, and the additional noise, dust and pollution, a partial taking can mean zoning or health code problems with the location of a residential property owner's well or septic system, location of a business owner's signage, loss of parking that reduces a business owner's ability to service customers, or zoning ordinance compliance/violations (buildings or parking now located too close to the road) that reduce property value, limit expansion and reduce the property owner's ability to re-sell the property. Property owners have a right to also be compensated for these issues, as well as the value of the property taken.
- Temporary easements: When IDOT seeks a temporary easement on your property, it typically means that they want full use of the specified section of your property for up to five years or until the road construction project is finished. IDOT may use the property for construction, grading, contractor vehicles, construction vehicles, water drainage and many other purposes until the construction project is complete. Once the temporary easement is in place, IDOT will have the right to remove mature trees, remove landscaping, take over parking stalls or otherwise alter the property, without restoring all aspects of your property when IDOT completes the construction project. It is important to work with an attorney who will assert your right to full compensation for such damages, and compensation to restore your property to its original condition.
- Permanent easements: Permanent easements can be extremely invasive and damaging to industrial and commercial properties. Permanent easements sought by IDOT give it the right to use that portion of property forever. Permanent easements may be used in commercial or industrial property cases where IDOT does not want the responsibility of ownership, but wants the permanent and often exclusive use of your property. Oftentimes the value of and negative impact caused by a permanent easement is no different than if IDOT had taken full ownership of the property.
How Much Compensation Am I Entitled To From IDOT?
Unfortunately, it is very difficult for a property owner to defeat IDOT's taking or to save his or her property. However, all property owners can require that IDOT follow the law and every step in the process; and if IDOT does not, then it cannot take your property. The Law Office of Bryan P. Lynch, P.C., will help ensure that IDOT follows the law and your rights are protected. If IDOT has followed the law, then the owners' focus needs to shift to their valuation rights such as:
- Value of property being taken — Fair market value for the property being taken
- Damages to remainder — The loss in fair market value of the remaining property after a piece has been taken. This typically is when the damage cannot be repaired, such as when the business or home sits too close to the road after the taking and the remaining property's value is reduced, or when road construction eliminates parking for customers or employees that cannot be replaced.
- Cost to cure — The amount of money to repair damages caused by IDOT such as when a septic system needs to be replaced, business signage requires relocation, or new parking stalls need to be created.
Contact Our Law Firm
If IDOT is adding a turn lane to an intersection or widening the road in front of your property or home, understand and protect your rights, and fight to secure the compensation you deserve. Contact our law firm for effective legal help throughout the Chicago metropolitan area, including the Collar counties by calling 800-710-9478.