Public hearing planned for Mundelein road project

Updated 12/6/2013 3:20 PM
  • A stretch of Hawley Street in Mundelein is being eyed for widening and repairs. A public hearing is planned for Dec. 16.

      A stretch of Hawley Street in Mundelein is being eyed for widening and repairs. A public hearing is planned for Dec. 16. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Steve Lentz

    Steve Lentz

If you're concerned about Mundelein's plans to forcibly purchase land for a Hawley Street improvement project, you can speak up at an upcoming public hearing.

The session is set for 7 p.m. Dec. 16 at the main fire station, 1000 N. Midlothian Road.

One of the village's attorneys will recap the project's timeline and explain the plan, including why officials are considering using their power of eminent domain to get the land.

Although it's the first time in more than 40 years that village officials have considered using eminent domain to acquire property, Mayor Steve Lentz doesn't expect a big crowd at the hearing.

"I haven't heard from residents that they're hugely concerned about this," he said.

About one mile of Hawley Street has been targeted, between Midlothian Road and Seymour Avenue.

The plan is to repave and widen the street by adding a center turn lane. New storm and sanitary sewers are planned, too, as is a bike path.

The project is expected to take two years and cost $8 million. Lake County maintains that stretch of Hawley and will pay for some of the project.

To make the improvements, officials need to acquire land in front of 40 Hawley Street properties, including homes. On average, about 4 feet of land is needed on each parcel.

No houses will be demolished.

"No one's getting kicked out of their homes," Lentz said.

In October, trustees unanimously authorized Village Administrator John Lobaito to negotiate purchase deals with the owners of the needed land. With the same vote, the board also gave Lobaito permission to acquire the land forcibly with the village's powers of eminent domain if necessary.

Some property owners are agreeable, but village officials have struggled to get responses from the banks that hold the mortgages, Lentz said.

"This is the biggest problem we have," Lentz said. "It's very frustrating."

Other property owners haven't responded to purchase offers from the village or rejected the offers.

Some of the properties are in foreclosure, and in other cases the owners have died.

"This is the reason why the law exists and why there's so much support on the board," Lentz said. "This is the perfect use of eminent domain."

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