Ditzlers settle & other board briefs

Ditzlers settle & other board briefs

By Jeff Havens, Staff Writer

On Thursday, Oct. 10, the Winnegago County Board passed Resolution 02-066, authorizing a settlement of the eminent domain action which acquired the Ditzler property for the Springfield/Harrison Avenue extension. The resolution passed by a vote of 23 to 2 with 3 absent.

In 1999, the county used a process called “quick take” to acquire the Ditzler property for extending Harrison/Springfield Avenue. Quick take allows municipalities to immediately acquire property for public projects. The municipality can later settle with the property owner for compensation.

This particular use of quick take was especially controversial since the road went through an undeveloped wetland area that critics say can not naturally support the weight of such a road.

As a result of the apparent absence of a natural foundation, initial construction of the road sank several feet. Subsequent reconstruction efforts have necessitated the use of betonite rock to provide an artificial foundation for the road.

Betonite rock expands when it comes into contact with water. It is commonly used to seal abandoned drinking water wells.

Advocates of the road extension claim that the road will pave the way for economic opportunities.

Ditzler supporters say the process is unfair to property owners, fuels suburban sprawl, violates an American Indian village and burial sites and undermines the ideals of private property.

The settlement was for $105,000 for approximately 10 acres, leaving the Ditzlers with approximately 6 acres.

“We got tired of fighting,” said Jan Ditzler. ”The land is gone and that we really wanted to save, so the heart really went out of it. There wasn’t really that much of a reason to fight anymore. If we ever wanted to replace the property we had, we wouldn’t be able to touch it for the price they‘re giving us. What makes it so valuable is the water running through it.”

Tom Ditzler said, “I don’t think its fair, but I’m really tired of trying to fight the system. There comes a time when you really get tired. Kent Creek runs through the property, and the Ditzlers’ walk bridge to reach the rear portion was taken out during the redirection of the stream through two large tunnels.

“I have to put my own bridge in. The appraisal for the walk bridge was $16,500, not including installation,” said Tom Ditzler. “There’s an addtional cost for installation and concrete work. Joe Vanderwerff estimates there’s another $5,000. It’s all mind boggling to me.”

Ditzler have a status hearing and may legally sign off on the deal before Judge Ronald Pirello in Courtroom 412 at 9 a.m., this Thursday.

“I guess its better to give in than give out,” said Tom Ditzler.

Polly Berg (D-7) and Peter MacKay (R-5) voted against the settlement. Stating that the Ditzlers had been worn down by the system, MacKay said he was voting against the resolution because he felt it was not enough money. As MacKay stated, “This whole thing should have never happened.”

Double Standards?

The county board appeared to apply a double standard twice in one evening last Thursday.

The first double standard was applied when two zoning petitions (z-13-02 and z-25-02) appeared before the board—both requested a layover until the next meeting of the county board on October 24th. Both petitions had previously been before the board, but were laid over. However, the additional layover for a zoning map amendment from AG, Agricultural District to RA Rural Agricultural District was denied in the case of z-13-02 by H. Trent Barnhart for 7783 Yale Bridge Road, Shirland Townhip, but layover was granted in the case of z-25-02 by Dennis Wecker for 2.5 acres located at 4802 Favor Rd., Owen Township.

The second double standard was applied when former board member Bob Kinnison (R-10) was voted off the board for moving out of his current district last May, but still within the reconfigured District 10. However, John Sweeny (R-14), who also bought a house outside his current district, but within his reconfigured district, was not voted off the board.

The county’s districts were reconfigured last year, in response to the 2000 population census. Those reconfigurations take effect in December, 2002, after the coming elections in November. The vote was 13 to 11 with 4 absent to oust Kinnison from the board.

In a recent letter to County Board Chair, Kris Cohn, Sweeny claims that he is not living in his new house, but at his mother’s home. His mother’s home is within District 14. Whereas, Kinnison did not immediately notify Cohn of his move because he thought his reconfigured district took effect last year.

Additional controversy was added because of the close vote, and how Sweeny made his decision. Sweeny voted to oust Kinneson. Had Sweeny decided to vote to keep Kinneson, the vote would have been 12 to 12 with 4 absent.

Numerous sources have said the reason Kinnison was voted off the board was because he was not in favor with Cohn. However, the opposition claims Kinneson was voted off because his move, out of the current district, was a clear violation of the law.

Votes challenged?

As the result of Kinneson’s presence on the board since last May, the votes that came before the county could be challenged, according to Assistant State’s Attorney Chuck Prorok.

Perryville Road moves forward

By a vote of 18 to 6 with 3 absent, the board approved giving no more than $28, 000 to Charles S. Davidson for real estate appraisal services. The appraisals will be done for an estimated 20 parcels of land for the proposed Perryville Road extension from Il Route 173 to Belvidere Road. The county leaders desire to purchase property for future right-of-way purposes for the proposed extension.

Editor and Publisher Frank Schier also contributed to this story.

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