JOLIET | A Will County judge will be asked on Friday to schedule a hearing to consider the merits of a lawsuit by the state that seeks to take the property of a rural Will County family for use as part of the Chicago-area airport proposed near Peotone.
Judge Michael J. Powers will hear from attorneys representing the Barbour family and the state. The family wishes to keep their land, but a lawsuit filed by the Illinois Department of Transportation seeks to take the land by use of eminent domain.
Bill Ryan, a Chicago-based attorney, said he filed legal motions last week seeking to have a judge dismiss the state’s lawsuit. He said he plans to be before Powers on Friday, at which time a formal hearing will be scheduled to hear legal arguments from all sides.
Ryan said he expects such a hearing to be scheduled for some time the first week of January,
Ryan said his case is based on the idea that the Federal Aviation Administration has not given the final approval for officials to proceed with building an airport at a rural site between Peotone, Monee and Beecher.
“It’s very premature for them to be talking about eminent domain and taking anyone’s land away from them,” he said.
Last month, the state Transportation Department sent a draft layout plan for a proposed third Chicago-area airport to the FAA for consideration. State officials at that time said this was “the biggest step yet” toward construction of a new airport.
Brooke Anderson, a spokeswoman for Gov. Pat Quinn, said the state has worked for some time to acquire land for the proposed airport, and the lawsuit against the Barbour family is not unique.
Anderson said the state has spent $29.8 million to purchase 2,317 acres of land for the airport project. In all, about 5,800 acres of land are within the proposed airport’s footprint, she said.