Will County backs Illiana route near Wilmington
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain firstname.lastname@example.org August 16, 2012 2:26PM
The Midewin National Tall Grass Prairie in Wilmington. | Ryan Thompson~For Sun-Times Media.
Updated: January 31, 2013 1:41PM
JOLIET — A “sliver” of the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie should be used for the Illiana Expressway so homes in northern Wilmington don’t have to be torn down to make way for the road, the Will County Board recommended Thursday.
Board Chairman Jim Moustis, R-Frankfort, and Cory Singer, R-Frankfort, said they preferred protecting people over a small piece of prairie.
“I’d rather displace a few bugs than hundreds of people,” Moustis said.
Midewin is on 22,000 acres of former Joliet Army Ammunition Plant land that was converted into a national prairie park.
“You could clip a very small portion of (Midewin) on its southern side and avoid a very significant amount of financial and personal hardship on people,” Singer said.
The board resolution supporting Illiana route B-3, one of three proposed routes, was amended last minute to include the Midewin provision and language that opposes the use of quick take powers for land acquisition. Using quick take would lock in depressed home values, which wouldn’t be fair to the displaced residents, board members said.
The last-minute changes rubbed some board members the wrong way, including Moustis, who said the changes could wait.
But amendment proponent Singer said he is trying to keep Wilmington-area residents from suffering the same fate as residents who have lived in the path of the long-debated south suburban airport near Peotone.
“We’ve seen the state of Illinois ... single-handedly nearly destroy a lot of personal property rights in eastern Will County and certainly manipulate the market and the value of land and people’s ability to buy and sell land,” Singer said.
The vote to amend the resolution was 15-8; the vote to approve the final resolution was 23-0. Katrina Deutsche, D-Crete, abstained from both votes because her family owns land in the path of the expressway.
District 6 board members — Debbie Rozak, R-Wilmington, Sharon May, D-Channahon, and Donald Gould, R-Shorewood — who represent Wilmington, supported the amendment. Gould said modern brick homes in the Waters Edge subdivision are in particular jeopardy from the Illiana.
The state is conducting an environmental study of the proposed paths and intends to have a 2,000-foot corridor selected by late summer or early fall. B-3 would start between Cedar Lake and Lowell in Indiana and end near Wilmington.
The county opposes another route, A3S2, because it would negatively affect residents of Manhattan, Jackson Township and Channahon and is too costly.