Jumer's Crossing Road Project in Hands of Judge
May 01, 2014
It's now up to a local judge to decide what the next step is for a road project on Big Island. Wednesday Rock Island County court, Judge Lori Lefstein heard arguments about whether the City of Rock Island should be allowed to take control of easements held by the owners of the levee that protects homes and businesses from flooding.
Attorneys for the owners, the Big Island River Conservancy District and the Village of Milan, argued the easements belong to them, and are required for them to protect, operate, and maintain the levee. They also say it would be a violation of federal law for Rock Island to try and force them to relinquish their responsibilities to take care of the levee.
Rock Island's attorney argued the city is well within its right to ask the court to grant its request based on Illinois' Local Improvement Act. The city also says it's not a federal case because the Corps of Engineers gave control of the levee to the local owners. And Rock Island claims the easements transferred along with the land when it was annexed.
(Earlier version 4/29/2014 1:15 p.m.)
At a court hearing tomorrow, the City of Rock Island will fight to build a road on Big Island for the Jumer's Crossing project. But opponents, including owners of the levee that prevents flooding, will also have their say.
The city plans the large commercial development on the northeastern corner of Interstate 280 and IL Highway 92. And last fall, the Rock Island City Council approved a special tax assessment to pay for an access road to the site. And some residents of Big Island would have to help pay for it. Then in January, Rock Island County Judge Lori Lefstein ruled the Village of Milan and the Big Island River Conservancy District can intervene in the case, along with Black Hawk Township, its road district, and four residents. They're concerned that the proposed road, plus new sewer and water lines for Jumers Crossing, would weaken the levee.
Tomorrow morning, Judge Lefstein is set to hear a number of motions and arguments. As owners or sponsors of the levee, Milan and the conservancy district are expected to argue that the federal government gave them control of the levee. At the hearing in January, they claimed they're the only ones who can give permission for the levee to be modified.
Attorney John Doak represents four Big Island residents and plans to argue that the proposed road is not a "local improvement," but a general project to benefit all of Rock Island and not eligible for a special tax assessment. The residents also claim the city failed to follow state rules in the assessment process.