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.