March 25, 2014
Chairwoman Tina Hill
McHenry County Board
230 Verbena Lane
Woodstock, IL 60098
Re: Proposed Continuous Flow Intersection Project at Randall & Algonquin Roads
Dear Chairwoman Hill:
I represent the shopping center located on the Northwest corner of Randall and Algonquin
Roads in the Village of Lake in the Hills at 100 N. Randall Road. I am writing this letter
about the proposed Continuous Flow Intersection (CFI) road project at that intersection. My
client wants to express, in the strongest possible terms, that this proposed CFI will disastrously
and severely impact most of the stores and businesses located at this intersection.
This CFI, the County’s solution to deal with increased traffic, will detrimentally impact the
full and convenient access that customers and patients have today at our shopping center and
all of the other businesses at this corner. To the extent that it is no longer convenient to shop,
customers will stop coming.
We certainly understand and appreciate that the growth of McHenry County and its constituent
communities necessitates traffic mitigation and road improvement options. This proposed solution, however, gives extraordinary meaning to the proverb, “throwing the baby out with the bath water”.
We further believe that if McHenry County proceeds with this CFI, many tenants and property
owners at all four corners of this intersection will suffer substantial economic damages as a direct result of customers not shopping at these businesses.
When customers do not shop, businesses close. When businesses close, jobs and services are lost. The impact of closings and vacancies become self-fulfilling viral realities. Soon the intersection will become an amalgam of empty store fronts and foreclosed properties with a sense of sad desperation filling the economic climate. In a very strange poetic way, the CFI will work because, by definition, traffic congestion will decrease at this intersection because it will be barren of economic activity.
In the event the economic activity decreases at this intersection and vacancies multiply, the property values of the adjoining property owners will plummet. The resultant consequential impact of plummeting property values will create lower property tax revenues to the underlying governmental agencies whose budgets will also be impacted. A copy of this letter is being sent to the Presidents of the impacted governmental agencies whose budgets will need to be altered if tax revenues are reduced because the CFI creates the financial havoc anticipated at this intersection.
I have heard that the McHenry County Board is now gaining an interesting but humiliating reputation. If this CFI does result in a mass abandonment of businesses at this intersection, “McHenry County’s Bridge to Nowhere” will join the ranks of the other disastrous governmental
boondoggle projects similar to the Borovsko Bridge in the Czech Republic, Bewley Footbridge in London and the Arboretum Bridge to Nowhere in Seattle.
There remains the additional legal question of when McHenry County will compensate adjoining owners and the approximate 75 business owners for the economic damage resulting from the CFI. In the case of Department of Public Works & Buildings v. Wilson & Co., 62 Ill.2d 131, 340 N.E.2d 12, 17 (1975), the Second District Appellate Court held that while not every limitation of access is compensable, when “access is taken or materially impaired,” the condemnor must compensate the property owner. These compensable damages are added costs and can easily reach many tens of millions of dollars.
Please address the following questions to the Board on behalf of my client:
- Have these potential reimbursement “eminent domain” costs been included in the global budget of this project and presented to federal funding agencies and McHenry County taxpayers?
- In the event federal funding does not include reimbursement for the eminent domain awards to adjoining property owners and approximately 75 business owners that will be affected, will McHenry County have to increase its tax rate in order to pay for the property awards?
- How much has McHenry County allocated for acquiring the Bank of America pad parcel site? (My client has been informed that the current valuation of that parcel alone will be approximately $6,000,000).
- Mr. Joseph Korpalski, Director of Transportation/County Engineer, McHenry County Division of Transportation has stated that he believes that “interconnectivity between adjacent retail properties” will provide visibility for motorists so that the majority of existing travel patterns can be maintained. Most of the adjoining properties do not have recorded cross-access agreements providing for interconnectivity between adjacent retail properties. The imposition of said cross-access agreements will require separate eminent domain awards that would compensate property owners for the reduction of property rights due to the imposition of these cross-access requirements. Have any funds been allocated for these potential eminent domain awards?
- The Village of Lake in the Hills has formalized opposition to the CFI and has officially sent its objections to all of the relevant agencies including Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ), Project Selection Committee, Policy Committee of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), the Illinois Department of Transportation, and the Federal Highway Administration (a copy of said formal communication is herein enclosed). This memo concludes that the proposed CFI will “adversely impair access to the impacted properties.” McHenry County is moving forward quickly with this project (see press release “RANDALL ROAD COORIDOR IMPROVEMENT UPDATE, MARCH 2014”) and has already committed to spending well over $15,000,000 of taxpayer’s funds. It is of the highest level of importance to immediately set up a meeting between McHenry County and all of the impacted property owners and 75 business owners who will be economically impacted by the CFI. McHenry County must establish an orderly and fair budgetary range for eminent domain awards so that a true cost analysis for the proposed project budget can be presented to the Federal Funding Agencies and McHenry County
taxpayers. When can this meeting be scheduled?
We would welcome your personal review and response to our concerns.
John E. Regan
Cc: See attached list.