Sever|Storey Blog

Upcoming Seminars: Ameren's Illinois Rivers Project

 

Sever Storey is doubling their efforts in regards to Ameren's Illinois Rivers Project and will be hosting four more seminars to help those affected.  The date and time of these free, open to the public, informational seminars ​​are below:​ 

April 29, 2014 - 6:30 p.m. - Jacksonville, IL

April 30, 2014 - 6:30 p.m. - Springfield, IL

May 6, 2014 - 6:30 p.m. - Decatur, IL

May 7, 2014 - 6:30 p.m. - Charleston, IL

Any and all interested parties are welcome to attend any of these seminars.  For more information about the eminent domain attorneys at Sever Storey, or if you are involved in your own eminent domain dispute, please contact our office at any time at 1-888-318-3761 or visit us on the web at www.landownerattorneys.com.

Upcoming Seminars: Grain Belt Express Power Line Project

 

​Sever Storey is following a new 700-mile power line project called the Grain Belt Express.  This Project will deliver 3,500 megawatts of renewable energy from western Kansas to communities in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and several other Midwestern states that have a strong demand for energy.  

To help those affected by this Project, Sever Storey​ is traveling to Kansas and​ will be hosting three, free, open to the public, informational seminars on Saturday, May 3, 2014.  The ​location and times ​are below:​ 

May 3, 2014 - 10:30 a.m. - Great Bend Public Library, Great Bend, KS 

May 3, 2014 - 2:30 p.m. - Beloit Municipal Building, Beloit, KS 

May 3, 2014 - 6:30 p.m. - Helvering Community Center, Marysville, KS

Gov. Quinn Unveils Slightly Smaller Transportation Plan

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois will spend slightly less next fiscal year on road, rail and airport construction projects under a transportation plan unveiled Wednesday by Gov. Pat Quinn.

Among the projects touted by the governor as part of the $2 billion plan are the replacement of the aging Interstate 74 bridge over the Mississippi River, construction of a new terminal at the Williamson County Airport in Marion and resurfacing work on Interstate 72 and U.S. 51 in Decatur.

"These are investments that are going to keep us moving forward," Quinn said.

Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider said about 75 percent of the work planned in the coming six years will go toward maintaining existing roadways in Chicago and downstate.

That means many of the projects coming in the next fiscal year are traffic-clogging, but needed projects such as the $11.3 million resurfacing of a section of Interstate 39 north of Normal and the $2 million reconstruction of the Brush College Road underpass between Faries Parkway and Williams Street in Decatur.

In southern Illinois, the state plans to resurface more than 30 miles of Interstate 57 south of Marion at a cost of more than $80 million. The project includes replacing several small bridges.

Quinn, who has been traversing the state cutting ribbons for road projects as he seeks re-election in November, said the road plan also means jobs at a time when Illinois is plagued by a high unemployment rate.

"Investing in transportation produces dividends immediately," the governor told reporters gathered in his Capitol office.

After praising the completion of a new Mississippi River bridge in St. Louis earlier this year, Quinn said replacing the I-74 bridge between Moline and Bettendorf will be the next top bridge priority.

With Iowa serving as the lead agency, the next three years will see more than $308 million in work on the new structure, including the construction of one mile of additional lanes on the Illinois side, as well as smaller bridge replacements and other adjustments in the vicinity.

Decatur also is in line for bridge work. Although work may not get underway in the coming 12 months, the plan calls for replacing the U.S. 51 bridge over the Sangamon River south of Harristown at a cost of $17 million.

In Coles County, the state will spend $4.1 million to replace the Illinois 133 bridge over the Embarras River west of Oakland.

In southern Illinois, the state is planning to spend $3 million to replace the Illinois 127 bridge over the Big Muddy River in Murphysboro.

The Main Street bridge over Sugar Creek in Normal also is programmed for replacement beginning in 2016 at a cost of $1.3 million.

Along with roads and bridges, the plan calls for spending on airports, including $4.8 million to reconstruct the runway at the Coles County Memorial Airport in Mattoon.

The state also plans to spend $10 million this year to construct a terminal building at the Williamson County Regional Airport.

The slight reduction in spending comes as the state's $31 billion capital construction plan is in its last stages. Quinn has called on lawmakers to form a task force to begin looking at ways to jump start a new construction program.

"With federal revenue sources dwindling and the end in sight for Gov. Quinn's Illinois Jobs Now program, I look forward to supporting the governor's call for a bipartisan working group to find ways to continue this progress," Schneider said.

Full story here.

US 45 Project in El Dorado Moves Forward

ELDORADO, IL (KFVS) - A highway project in Saline County is moving forward after years of planning.

Some folks sold pieces of their property to make room for the new four lane road, others have to deal with the encroaching pavement.

The project will upgrade US 45 from two lanes to four, stretching nine miles north of IL 141.

Developers say it will promote economic development, but some folks say it will drive them away.

“A lot of pickups come by,” said Bob Gans.

Gans is one of the residents whose front yard will be much smaller once the project is complete, adding on to the already noisy front yard.

“It has its moments,” he said.

He and his wife retired in Eldorado for a more quiet lifestyle, he worries the four lane highway give him reason to leave and turn north closer to his family.

“We thought we were settled because we are up there in age now, time will tell i guess," said Gans.

It’s the same story down the road to Tony Jones who sold part of his property. He says the sale cut his property in half.

“Through that cut right there, it is going to make a curve through that post and then it will meet back up with Alexander (street) just before s cemetery,” Jones said.

Calling it an intrusive move, but having owned the property for 45 years, he says he has no plans to move.

“I have roots deeper than some of those trees,” said Jones.

Bids will go out in June.

IDOT says they hope to start the project this fall and have it completed in 2015.

Full story here.

If you think you may be affected by the US 45 El Dorado Project and/or are interested in a free consultation, contact our eminent domain landowner attorneys at 1-888-318-3761 or visit us on the web at www.landownerattorneys.com.

Enbridge Southern Extension Project Gets Boost from ICC

Canadian pipeline company Enbridge Inc. moved a step closer to being able to move ahead with an $800 million oil pipeline in Illinois — a project initially proposed almost eight years ago.

An administrative law judge on Thursday recommended that Enbridge be granted authority to use eminent domain to acquire easements across 127 tracts of land. The final decision will ultimately be made by the Illinois Commerce Commission.

The Southern Access Extension pipeline would cross eight counties and 165 miles directly south from the company’s Flanagan oil terminal at Pontiac, Illinois, to an oil terminal and pipeline hub at Patoka.

The 24-inch-diameter line is just one piece of a much broader strategy by Enbridge to expand its network of North American oil pipelines, and the Southern Access Extension, itself, has evolved since it was proposed.

Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge won ICC approval to construct the pipeline in 2009. But the commission decided it was premature to grant eminent domain authority and said additional negotiations with landowners was required.

At the time it was proposed by Enbridge in 2006, the pipeline was seen as a way to move heavy Canadian crude from Alberta’s oil sands to refineries in the Midwest, Gulf Coast and eastern United States.

Enbridge, which had staged miles of pipe in a field in Illinois and was ready to begin construction of the project, put it on hold while landowners appealed the commission’s decision in court. Then the Great Recession and shifting oil markets softened demand and shippers hesitated to commit to additional pipeline capacity.

But a resurgence of domestic oil production, specifically from the Bakken Shale formation, revived interest.

Today, the Southern Access Extension is part of Enbridge’s $6.2 billion Light Oil Market Access Program to move light oil from the Bakken to refineries in the Midwest and eastern Canada. And one of the nation’s largest refiners signed on as an anchor shipper.

With renewed interest in the pipeline, Enbridge returned to the commission last summer, saying it had exhausted negotiation efforts and that it was at an impasse with owners of about a fourth of 679 tracts of land that the pipeline would cross. The company subsequently secured some additional easements, but as of December remained at a standstill with owners of 127 tracts.

In his proposed order released Friday, the administrative judge said Enbridge had satisfied requirements under Illinois law to be granted eminent domain authority.

Thomas Pliura, an Illinois attorney for some of the landowners, believes evidence demonstrates otherwise and is hopeful that the commission will veer away from the proposed order and deny Enbridge’s request. If it is approved, he said, it could be appealed in the courts.

“If anybody thinks that that pipeline is going in tomorrow, then they’re mistaken,” Pliura said.

An Enbridge spokesman didn’t return a call seeking comment on the proposed order.

The company has said as recently as January that it plans to begin construction of the pipeline later this year and have it in service by mid-2015.

Findlay, Ohio-based Marathon Petroleum Corp. has agreed to be the anchor shipper on the Southern Access Extension and has an option to buy a 35 percent ownership interest in the pipeline.

Full story here.

If you think you may be affected by the Enbridge Southern Extension Project and/or are interested in a free consultation, contact our eminent domain landowner attorneys at 1-888-318-3761 or visit us on the web at www.landownerattorneys.com.

Feds Give FutureGen 2.0 Draft Approval

The FutureGen Alliance expects to store 22 million metric tons of carbon dioxide at a site in Morgan County over a period of more than 20 years as part of efforts to show that Illinois coal can be cleanly burned and emissions safely stored underground.
Details of plans to store carbon in four wells at depths of about 4,000 feet were included in a preliminary permit approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, an EPA representative said Tuesday. A final permit is needed before CO2 storage could begin at the site 18 miles northeast of Jacksonville.
An open house and public hearing have been scheduled for May 7 in Jacksonville. Written comments will be accepted through May 15.
“This is a draft permit,” says a statement from the U.S. EPA regional office in Chicago. “FutureGen can only begin construction if the final permits are issued, and then they become effective.”
The ruling on a final permit for FutureGen 2.0 depends on the number of public comments submitted, according to EPA. The permit would be the first in the nation for the type of carbon storage proposed for the $1.68 billion project.
“CO2 is a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change,” EPA stated. “Carbon sequestration is a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
In approving the draft permit, EPA concluded rock formations at depths of 3,785 to 4,432 feet were suitable to contain the estimated 1.1 million metric tons of carbon that would be stored annually.
Carbon from a retrofitted Ameren coal plant at Meredosia would be carried to the site by a 30-mile underground pipe.
The rock formations used to hold the carbon, according to EPA, would not endanger local underground water sources. The nearest water source, the draft permit stated, is 1,800 feet from the storage formations. The study includes an area from Meredosia to the west side of Springfield and from southern Mason County to northern Macoupin County.
FutureGen also would be required to plug the wells and monitor the site for at least 50 years after storage is completed.
Ken Humphreys, CEO of the FutureGen Alliance, said the draft permit moves the project that much closer to construction.
“The alliance appreciates the hard work the agency has done to complete the draft permits,” Humphreys said in a statement, “and we look forward to the issuance of final permits which will allow us to keep this near-zero emissions project on track.”
For more information about the project, read an EPA fact sheet at bit.ly/futuregen2

Full story here.

If you think you may be affected by the FutureGen 2.0 Project and/or are interested in a free consultation, contact our eminent domain landowner attorneys at 1-888-318-3761 or visit us on the web at www.landownerattorneys.com.

Appraisals Rattle Landowners on Illiana

Some landowners along the proposed Illiana toll road said the state jumped the gun when it sent letters saying their property would be appraised in the next 30 days.

The project doesn’t have the federal stamp of approval, or “record of decision,” that is expected by May 30.

Ten appraisal firms are working with the Illinois Department of Transportation to acquire some 350 parcels, said IDOT spokeswoman Jae Miller.

“This is just part of the appraisal process. We will not be making any final offers until we receive a final Record of Decision,” Miller said via email.

“They say they won’t do that with the Illiana Corridor, but will they?” said Will County board member Judy Ogalla, R-Monee, whose property IDOT needs for a proposed south suburban airport in Peotone.

The state has bought 85 parcels, totaling over 3,300 acres, for the airport near the toll road before receiving formal approval from the federal government. IDOT has spent $47,888,945 acquiring the property.

The airport master plan is still under review by the Federal Aviation Administration and the environmental impact study is ongoing.

The state’s quick acquisition of property for the airport has rattled some landowners along the proposed toll road.

One appraisal letter, received by Virginia Hamann, a dairy farmer in Peotone Township, said the William H. Metz firm would be inspecting her property within 30 days.

“Over my dead body,” said Hamann, who is leading the No Illiana 4 Us group in opposition to the project to build a new 47-mile tollway from I-55 in Wilmington to I-65 near Lowell, Ind.

Hamann said she will not let anyone on her property without a court order.

“This is bullying and intimidation by IDOT and it needs to stop,” she said, adding that the corridor’s route has not been finalized and there is no federal approval yet.

“Would IDOT treat their own grandparents like this? This is absolutely disgusting,” she said.

“I didn’t think they would appraise it until after they got the OK,” said Alan Brown, who could lose his home and 10-acre site in Wilton Center. With depressed property values now, he said he will not get his money of his property, which he purchased in 1990.

The unemployed construction worker said he is having a “hard time right now” and doesn’t have money for an attorney.

“I would rather do it and get it over with,” Brown said of the pending sale of his land. “It’s been (talked about for) two years. It’s aggravating. At least my property is being taken. I won’t have to live next to (the tollway).”

Once IDOT gets federal approval, it will make formal offers via certified mail between June 2014-15, said Mike Hansen, the ombudsman hired by the state to work with landowners, at a meeting in Peotone earlier this month.

Landowners who want to make a counteroffer should get their own appraisal, he told them.

They have the right not to have an appraiser on their property, but Hansen said, “Many times it helps if the owner is there to point out certain features. The appraiser wants to see everything about your property.”

A meeting on protecting property rights will be at 6:30 p.m. April 7 at the Peotone American Legion Hall, sponsored by No Illiana 4 Us.

Construction could begin in spring 2015 and the road would take three years to complete.

It is being financed through a public-private partnership.

IDOT has announced four finalists that can bid on the Illinois portion of the project:

—Illiana West Mobility Partners, with equity member Cintra Infraestructuras SA and lead contractors Ferrovial Agroman US Corp. and White Construction Inc.

—Illinois Corridor Connection Group, with equity members ACS Infrastructure Development Inc. and Fengate Capital Management Ltd., and lead contractors Dragados USA Inc., F.H. Paaschen, S.N. Nielson and Associates LLC, and William Charles Construction Co.

—Illinois Mobility Partners, with equity members Fluor Enterprises Inc. and Plenary Group USA Ltd. With lead contractor Illinois Mobility Constructors, which includes Fluor Enterprises, Lane Construction Corp. and Granite Construction Co.

—WM Illinois-Illiana Partners LLC with equity members Meridiam Infrastructure Illiana LLC and Walsh Investors LLC and lead contractor Walsh Construction Co. IL.

The selected team will design, build, finance, operate and maintain the Illinois portion of the Illiana tollway, according to IDOT. They will each make a presentation at an April 3 forum for disadvantaged business enterprises and small businesses that are interested in working on the project.

Meanwhile, there is a pending lawsuit that claims the Federal Highway Administration violated federal law by approving the environmental study. The complaint, filed in July 2013 by the Environmental Law and Policy Center on behalf of Openlands, Sierra Club and Midewin Heritage Association, says that IDOT and the Indiana Department of Transportation failed to establish the need for the road and properly evaluate alternatives to the proposed tollway route. The study was based on inflated population and employment projections and failed to thoroughly evaluate how the tollway would impact state and federally protected natural resources, the lawsuit claimed.

Full story here.

If you think you may be affected by the Illiana Expressway Project and/or are interested in a free consultation, contact our eminent domain landowner attorneys at 1-888-318-3761 or visit us on the web at www.landownerattorneys.com.

BREAKING: Illinois Begins Appraisal Process for Illiana

Illinois home and landowners within the projected right of way of the proposed Illiana Expressway have begun receiving letters from appraisers asking for permission to do on-site inspections.

Virginia Hamann, a farmer on the west side of Peotone, said she was shocked to get a letter requesting permission for an on-site inspection of her home and property this week because the 47-mile toll road has not yet won federal approval.

"IDOT has trampled on property rights over here for 20 years, and it started with the airport," she said, referring to property purchases the Illinois Department of Transportation already has made for the proposed airport at Peotone.

IDOT has hired 10 firms to work on appraisals, and letters recently have been sent to landowners on behalf of IDOT requesting an inspection of their property, IDOT spokeswoman Jae Miller said.

As part of the overall land acquisition process, there already has been regular contact between IDOT and landowners within the corridor, she said.

"This is just another step in that process," she stated in an email to The Times.

Indiana property owners will not receive letters seeking access to property for appraisals until the Federal Highway Administration issues a record of decision to proceed with the expressway, said Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman Jim Pinkerton. Federal approval could come as early as May.

Some property owners in Indiana have received letters asking for permission to access property for field work, such as surveys and soil sampling, Pinkerton said.

IDOT and INDOT conducted their last public hearings on the expressway Feb. 18 in Lowell and Feb. 19 in Wilmington, Ill., before submitting the environmental impact statement for the expressway for federal approval.

The Illiana Expressway would run from Interstate 65, just northeast of Lowell, to Interstate 55, near Wilmington. It has a projected cost of $1.5 billion. Construction could begin as soon as late spring 2015.

Hamann questioned why Illinois would begin hiring appraisers if the environmental impact statement has not yet won federal approval. In addition, neither state has yet issued a request for proposals for the private investment they say will help pay for the expressway.

"They're spending money like they have it, but everyone knows the state of Illinois is broke," she said.

Full story here.

If you think you may be affected by the Illiana Expressway Project and/or are interested in a free consultation, contact our eminent domain landowner attorneys at 1-888-318-3761 or visit us on the web at www.landownerattorneys.com.

Surveyor Won't Give Illiana Pass on Regs

CROWN POINT | Lake Surveyor Bill Emerson Jr. said Wednesday he will not relax the county's stormwater drainage regulations for the proposed Illiana Expressway.

The surveyor publicly released his statement to the Indiana Department of Transportation in response to the state's request he not require the highway's developer comply with every detail in the county's stormwater management and clean water regulations.

HNTB, a Midwest engineering firm working on the project asked Emerson to use his authority to alter the standards on drainage ditches, detention basins, flood plain storage and the amount of water that can be released back into the environment by man-made storage facilities after a heavy rain.

HNTB said those standards could require larger bridges and increase the cost of the project.

Emerson said he couldn't go along with that. "The Lake County Surveyor's office will review any request for waivers on a case-by-case basis ... after a thorough review of the project specifications."

The Illiana would be a 47-mile toll road, which would stretch from Interstate 65 near Lowell to Interstate 55 near Wilmington, Ill. State officials are willing to pour $1.5 billion into its construction to relieve truck traffic congestion on other local highways.

Full story here.

If you think you may be affected by the Illiana Expressway Project and/or are interested in a free consultation, contact our eminent domain landowner attorneys at 1-888-318-3761 or visit us on the web at www.landownerattorneys.com.

CMAP Officials Left Off Invite to Illiana Planning Council

Maybe their invitation got lost in the mail.

The Illinois Department of Transportation yesterday named 41 people to a new Freight Advisory Council that will advise the department on how to maintain and even improve Illinois' position as the freight hub of the nation.

Included are a broad range of private- and public-sector officials, including executives from Caterpillar Inc., the Illinois Petroleum Council and CenterPoint Properties, plus Chicago Transportation Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld, Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur, IDOT Secretary Ann Schneider and Will County Executive Larry Walsh.

Not on the list is anyone from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, this area's official gatekeeper for federal transportation money, which last time I looked had something to do with the movement of freight. So, what's up?

It's strictly happenstance with no slight intended at all, says an IDOT spokesman. "This has more of a statewide focus and is primarily seeking input from the private sector," he continued, adding that, after all, Illinois has 11 official MPOs, or metropolitan planning organizations, in federal lingo.

Of course, none of the other 10 represents an area with almost 10 million people. And none of them vehemently opposed IDOT's prized proposed Illiana Expressway, as CMAP did with vigor, charging that the road never will pay for itself. Beyond that, it's surely a fluke that Will County strongly pushed for the road, which would be near CenterPoint's Joliet Arsenal property. And it's probably not worth mentioning that the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce, which accused CMAP of being biased against the suburbs, has a seat on the panel, too.

Golly, it just has to be one of those things, I guess. Don't you just love a good coincidence?

Full story here.

If you think you may be affected by the Illiana Expressway Project and/or are interested in a free consultation, contact our eminent domain landowner attorneys at 1-888-318-3761 or visit us on the web at www.landownerattorneys.com.

Educational Videos

Sever Storey is passionate about helping landowners. We have created a video library packed with knowledge and information to help landowners gain more facts about the eminent domain process. Please watch the video's and let us know if you have any questions that we can help answer.

 

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Inverse Condemnation

The obvious government acquisition is the State, through its agents, knocking on your door and issuing you a notice of condemnation with a corresponding offer of just compensation. The more insidious acquisition is the State, through its agents, rendering your property worthless or significantly...

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