Sever Storey Note: This is an example of a horror story for a landowner subject to eminent domain. A landowner was “surprised” with relocation and forced to move in a pinch. A seasoned and experienced eminent domain attorney can help a business or homeowner avoid a terrible situation like the following.

Full story here.

To make way for a parking lot, a well-known business in Rockford is being shut down by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) before they are ready to leave the building they are currently occupying.

Morgan and Main Enterprises, at 310 Morgan St., is a remodeling, refinishing and cabinet-making business that has been operating for 13 years. They had been in negotiations with IDOT to move their business across the street from its current location to another property that the owner, Lawrence “Mort” Morton, also owns.

They were in the process of moving and had already moved about 85 percent of their business when an employee from IDOT visited them Monday (Sept. 30) asking when they would be finished.

Morton and Joe Cavallaro, who was helping with the move, both said Jan Broderick, a realty specialist within the Department of Land Acquisition for IDOT, stated she wanted to know how many more “hours” they needed to complete the move.

Incredulous, both said the move would not take hours, but days, if not weeks. This is because they do not even have the required occupancy permit from the city for the building they are moving still in the process of approval.

“IDOT purchased our building agreeing that it be relocated across the street in a building, owned by myself that would need rehabilitation,” Morton said. “IDOT understood that it would take time to renovate our new building and IDOT would issue progress payments to me as the job progressed.”

However, because of financial problems with state payments to IDOT, funds have been promised but then delayed, interrupting the progress of work at the new building. These delays, coupled with the City of Rockford’s requirements for rehabilitation at the new location, has slowed the overall move down further.

“IDOT delivered a progress check for past rehabilitation of the new facility last week, but demanded closure of the building today,” Morton said. “I have been unable to get the new building even inspected. Electricity is only today being finished on the second floor, and phones won’t be able to be moved for up to six weeks. The occupancy permit can’t be issued yet, but IDOT is threatening to close the doors of the business anyway.”

Morton said the state has threatened to lock him out.

“IDOT stated that adequate time to move would be allowed as long as significant progress is being made,” Morton said. “I have 85 percent of my equipment moved into a building I still can’t move into and IDOT isn’t happy with that.”

Broderick, with IDOT, did not return a reporter’s phone call. However, Paris Ervin, spokesperson for IDOT, said, “The Illinois Department of Transportation acquired the property in July of 2012 for $350,000 in order to begin construction for the North/South Main project in Rockford. Construction is under way, and contractors are already on site and have begun the demolition process. For months, IDOT staff has worked closely with the previous property owners to purchase the land, provide relocation assistance that would help ensure a smooth transition and keep our construction project on track.

“The previous property owners have been paid for their property, including a portion to assist with relocation expenses, and have been given adequate time to relocate,” Ervin said.

Todd Cagnoni, director of Community and Economic Opportunity for the City of Rockford, did not return a reporter’s phone call.

Morton moved into the space at Morgan and Main Street when Ben Carter Machine went out of business in 2000. The building, built in 1933, formerly held Rockford Spaghetti Company and was the production center of Bubble Up and other soft drinks as Blackhawk Bottling Company from the 1950s to 1970s.

Morgan & Main has been bringing much-needed business to the depressed southwest businesses along South Main Street. IDOT removed the Morgan Street Bridge access years ago, almost crippling area businesses, and many have closed, Morton observed.

If you think your property may require relocation as a result of eminent domain 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