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Thursday, February 6, 2020

Airport Expansion "Takings" Case Goes Back to Trial Court

The Illinois courts don't often hear "takings" cases, which are usually brought in federal court. In a takings case, a property owner claims that his or her property rights have been "taken" by the government without just compensation in violation of their constitutional rights. That's the claim property owners made against an Illinois municipality that operates an airport following an airport expansion project. Jackiewicz v. Village of Bolingbrook.

A group of property owners who live near Clow International Airport brought a lawsuit against the Village of Bolingbrook, the owner and operator of the airport, after they claim the Village moved forward with a 2015 airport expansion project knowing it would "dramatically and negatively impact their quality of life and decrease their property values." The owners claimed that the Village made "low ball offers for their air rights" that did not compensate them for the value of the owners' air rights that the owners alleged were "taken" by the expansion. 

The trial court ruled in favor of the Village on various grounds, including  that the owners did not file their lawsuit within the applicable statutory time period and that the owners failed to demonstrate that the 2015 project damaged their property rights. The owners appealed.  The appellate court reversed that ruling, and sent the case back to the trial court for further proceedings. Specifically, the appellate court found that the issue of whether the 2015 expansion project damaged or "took" the owners' property is a fact issue that was in dispute; therefore, the trial court prematurely decided the case when it ruled in favor of the Village without hearing evidence on the owners' claims of a "taking" of their air rights.


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