Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Update on O'Hare expansion (aka, eminent domain) project

Hree is the latest on the plans to expand Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. From the Chicago Tribune:
DuPage County Judge Hollis Webster ordered that the title of the 5.3-acre St. Johannes Cemetery in Addison Township be transferred from St. John's United Church of Christ to the city. She also ordered that Chicago pay the church $630,000 for the land, which stands between two segments of a new runway already under construction.

At the heart of this dispute is a controversial ruling by this same judge to approve Chicago's use of eminent domain for the project.
Here's where it could get interesting for observers of eminent domain cases. First, the Supreme Court's Kelo decision of 2005 broadly expanded eminent domain powers (interestingly enough, Pfizer, the main beneficiary of that ruling, has abandoned the project after uprooting so many people's lives). In that case, the Supreme Court ruled that land could be claimed from one private by a government entity and turned over to another private entity.
Now, here we have a judge ruling that one town can take land of another. One can only imagine that this case is far from over.

1 comment:

The Reflective Professor said...

Hi, Deb, I saw your post on the UrbGeog listserve. One thing that I think is worth thinking about here is how the power of eminent domain is exercised and specifically by whom. I suspect that the city of Chicago or even the metropolitan regional govt has a quasi-public agency that acts as the airport authority and that they have broader powers and less accountabiity than city officials themselves. Here in Massachusetts I am 99% certain that a municipality would not have eminent domain powers in another muni. In fact, cities can't even BUY land in other cities here anymore - although a few such arrangements still exist from before it was made illegal.