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updated: 4/7/2010 11:08 AM

Lake Zurich swaps land with CN

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By Adam DeRose

Lake Zurich officials have formalized the land exchange with Canadian National Railway as part of plans to build a 270-foot communications tower.

Construction is under way on the tower, which will be used to monitor rail traffic. The negotiations were to replace the original tower site near downtown.

"In large part, we were trying to straighten up their property lines, and we were only interested in taking what we need and leaving the rest as a tax piece," Village Administrator Bob Vitas said

The property CN was looking to exchange with the village was larger than the parcel at the industrial park on Ensell Road where CN is constructing the communications tower, he added.

Village officials wanted assurance the property, along Route 22, and bordering the railroad tracks, was of equal size and value.

"We're not interested in taking new property at this time," Vitas said.

The tower construction was originally slated for a lot behind the Casper Hardware store in the downtown district. Village officials were not informed about the railway's plans to construct the tower. Because it is regulated by the Federal Railroad Administration, CN had no obligation to inform the village.

In negotiations with the village, CN agreed to move to the current location. Doing so would incur the least amount of visual obstruction to nearby residents, Vitas said.

"They could have placed that tower downtown, but we've worked with them to create the land swap," he said.

The current tower is slated to reach 270 feet, 45 feet taller than original plans, because the new site is lower and farther away from the original site and there are obstructions.

The real estate closing for the exchange will occur in the coming weeks, Village Attorney Mark Burkland said. The closing is only a formality, he added.

CN purchased the EJ&E railway in late 2008, and has been working with Lake Zurich and other suburbs as agreed upon with the purchase.

The village and CN are still developing other plans for a sound barrier, and possible future road rerouting in the village.

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