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Will County Board Speaker Herb Brooks said he has moved on from his initial concerns about how the South Suburban Airport legislation was swept in during the final hours of the Legislature’s spring session.
But it was clear at an Aug. 1 meeting of County Board committee leadership that others did not agree with the Joliet Democrat.
“I want to begin a relationship with (the Illinois Department of Transportation) and the governor’s office to move this plan forward,” Brooks said at the Aug. 1 Executive Committee meeting. Some were upset with Brooks when he sent a letter to the media following the Legislature’s 11th hour vote on Senate Bill 20, an omnibus bill that established a public-private partnership opportunity for the airport with the state in control.
Will County Board Member Judy Ogalla, R-Monee, a member of Shut This Airport Nightmare Down, still is angry with board leadership that county board rank and file knew nothing about the deal, especially since the county board for years has supported local control of the airport.
Even though an airport would not be built unless the state finds a suitable private partner, Ogalla said land values for property owners in that area will continue to drop because no one will want to buy land until they know for sure what’s going on.
Land use is one of the crucial issues the County Board needs to iron out with IDOT, the board’s airport consultants told them at the meeting. SB 20 bars any local taxes from being levied within the airport boundaries. Since that means potential loss of revenue to the county and adjoining municipalities, they said the county needs to iron out the exact boundaries.
Other issues the county needs to work out with IDOT include: funding for infrastructure damaged by airport construction; effect on traffic and roads; who will provide on-site police and fire protection; water and sewer issues; impact fees; and noise.
They said the federal and state government often has funds available for planning for such projects.
Board Republican Caucus Chairman Jim Moustis, R-Frankfort Township, said he does not trust the state to treat the county fairly. He said it’s up to them to make sure Will County residents are protected.
He also wondered whether the airport, if there is one, would remain in Will County, or if another municipality would attempt to annex it, as Chicago did years ago with O’Hare International Airport.
Consultants said they believed an airport near Peotone would remain within Will County. After the meeting, Nick Palmer, chief of staff for Will County Executive Larry Walsh, said they are not concerned at this point about rumors that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel may find a way to block the airport.
Palmer said the same is true for William Daley who recently announced a run for governor next year. Many believe it was Daley as Commerce Secretary under President Bill Clinton who got the Federal Aviation Administration to take the South Suburban Airport off its list.
Palmer noted that if Emanuel and Daley are opposed to the airport, the legislation in SB 20 managed to pass regardless.
He also said an earlier meeting with IDOT officials on transportation issues that had been postponed was rescheduled for 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 27, at the Will County Office Building.
If you think you may be affected by the South Suburban Airport 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.
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