Elmhurst Files Condemnation Lawsuit To Seize Property for Public Works

Elmhurst City Council moves forward with plan to condemn Riverside Drive property for public use after being unable to acquire land through negotiation with owners.

The City of Elmhurst has filed a condemnation lawsuit as a last resort after city officials were unable to negotiate a sale with the owners of a property that will be used as additional storage for the city’s public works facility.

The city has had an ordinance on the books to purchase the 2.62-acre lot at 954 S. Riverside Drive since 2001. The condemnation lawsuit, filed in Du Page County on March 21, is the first step toward declaring eminent domain to seize the private property for public use.

Condemnation allows the city to purchase the property from owners at present-day market value. Formerly used only to claim land for civic works, a 2005 ruling by the Supreme Court allows land to be transferred for private development. 

The Riverside Drive property is owned by the children of the late Victoria Oltean. Elmhurst purchased another 2.62 acre parcel in 2002 on the south side of Mrs. Oltean’s property to act as a buffer between neighboring houses and the public works facility.

“It has been part of city’s plan since public works garage was planned,” Elmhurst’s assistant city manager Mike Kopp said. “Our plan is that this would be phase II to expand the facility on to Oltean property.

In a news advisory, the city said that it has “attempted in good faith to voluntarily acquire title to the Oltean property through negotiation.”

When terms of a sale could not be reached with Mrs. Oltean’s heirs, the city said it had no choice but to file a lawsuit. A house had been on the lot, but was torn down years ago.

“We’ve been dealing with the family for years to come up with a way to purchase the property,” Kopp said. “The city council said it was wasn’t working and we need it for betterment of public works services, so let’s move forward.”

The property would be used for parking the city’s fleet of public works vehicles and salt storage. The “buffer” property will also be landscaped to block neighbors view “so that people don’t have to look at a public works facility,” Kopp said.

“We’re hoping we can still negotiate a settlement,” the assistant city manager added.

Expose Them March 28, 2014 at 08:40 AM
"It has been part of the city's plan since the public works garage was planned." - Really? Maybe we'd all better demand to see how OUR property fits into their 'city plan', eh?
Jim Court March 28, 2014 at 08:09 PM
Would it not be a vastly superior idea to locate part of the public works to the Northside of Elmhurst in the commercial and industrial area west of York Rd. ? It is hugely inefficient to have vehicles and employees waste huge amounts of time, manhours, gas and wear and tear on equipment traveling back and forth. I would divide the town in half with the tracks as the dividing line. The community is geographically large enough to warrant this and any time and motion study would support what I am saying. Innovative thinking and constructive problem solving is the answer.
Jim Court April 02, 2014 at 09:37 AM
I am always amazed by the lack of community response. I believe we are a fairly educated community so it confuses me. Are we this disengaged or perhaps exceptionally busy. Has the Patch lost its voice in the community?
j April 02, 2014 at 11:06 AM
Any attempt to contact the Oltean family or their attorney for comment on this story? What was the offer price and independent estimate of fair market value? Wouldn't the offer price be public information? Lorraine, that might be a good update to this "news advisory" from city hall.
Diane July 11, 2014 at 03:30 PM
I grew up near this property & ask everyone to oppose the purchase. Please take a ride to the public works garage on a Sunday & you will see the gates up for anyone to come on in... why I do not know. The back of the property is also open to Eldridge Park for anyone to take or damage any item. I have brought this to the attention at a council meeting & nothing has changed. If they organized the items that should be on the property they would have plenty of space without using our tax dollars to buy more property. Hockey nets, old tires, broken pallets & garbage are all over the property. The city should be thinking about flood problems not more land to pave & create more flooding.


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