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updated: 9/12/2012 5:00 PM

Lake in the Hills looking at eminent domain for airport plan

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Lake in the Hills trustees are set to decide whether they want to initiate eminent domain proceedings against a construction company as part of the village's airport improvement plan.

The roughly one-acre parcel at 8603 Pyott Road, which now belongs to Snelten Inc., would serve as the main access to the new airport apron area, part of a $23 million plan to improve safety at the airport. The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to cover most of the cost of plan, which includes the realignment of Pyott Road.

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Village Administrator Gerald Sagona said both parties did their own appraisals; the village made an offer on the property earlier this year and got counteroffers from Snelten in April and May.

"This has been going on for a long period of time. The parties are significantly off in terms of the value of the property," Sagona said, declining to give specific figures.

David Snelten said he and his wife, Julie, want to get the fair market value for the property, and don't want to be stuck with moving costs. "Our business is not like going somewhere and turning on a light switch in an office. We have trucks, equipment," Snelten said. He also declined to give specifics, only saying "we are well over $100,000 apart."

Snelten said he and his wife don't oppose the airport plan, but haven't been able to find a suitable new property in the area. They started the business in 1985 and moved to Lake in the Hills in 1994, he said.

If this goes to court, this would the second eminent domain lawsuit related to the airport plan. In 2007, Lake in the Hills filed such a lawsuit to acquire three-fourths of an acre from Athans Co.; the parties settled the lawsuit in 2010 and the village agreed to pay $780,000. The village also acquired some land from Material Service Corp. after mutually agreeing on a price, Sagona said.

Even if the board votes on Thursday to approve the use of eminent domain against Snelten, negotiations are still possible, Sagona said.

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