Machesney Park postpones land grab

Machesney Park Village Trustees voted 6-0 March 31 to postpone action that would authorize the village to seize resident Dewey Henninger’s property to make way for retail development. Henninger’s 0.15 acres, near the intersection of Illinois 173 and Highway 251, is the last property developer Sunil Puri of First Rockford Group needs to reconfigure the area into a new strip mall.

The board voted to put off the decision to condemn the property until April 14 after Henninger’s attorney, Ben Healy, told trustees that he had been hired the day of the vote. Healy said he wanted trustees to lay over the eminent domain procedure for two weeks while he discussed details of a settlement with Puri.

Healy said Henninger, a 73-year-old businessman who runs an excavating shop on the property, is trying to find a similar location nearby. Puri’s company has bought land in the region in anticipation of new state and county road construction several miles to the east of Henninger’s property.

Specifically, First Rockford has bought a number of properties along the county’s northward extension of Perryville Road.

They have also bought property near the proposed I-90 interchange at Illinois 173. About 8 miles north of the proposed interchange, on the Illinois/Wisconsin border, Puri and his associates own more property near the I-90/Illinois 75 interchange.

First Rockford has already constructed a Road Ranger convenience store at that location. Reportedly, Puri is part owner of some of the area’s Road Ranger stations.

Normally, eminent domain can only be used to take private property for public use only, and transfer to private parties is prohibited.

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