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Lake Zurich, Ill., CN working on land trade

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The Lake Zurich, Ill., Village Board gave its preliminary consensus for a property swap with Canadian National Railway at the board's meeting last week, which would result in CN building a 250-foot-tall communication tower in the village's industrial park rather than near downtown, according to local newspapers.

The village would swap an
18,000-square-foot property on state Route 22 near Old Rand Road behind Casper
True Value Hardware, for village-owned property on Ensell Road between Oakwood
Road and Telser Road.

Trustees are expected to
approve the land swap at the Nov. 16 board meeting, according to Village
Administrator Bob Vitas. Vitas said the deal was prompted by reports he
received two months ago from Casper’s management.

Trustee Jim Johnson said
the management reported CN was moving in heavy equipment to build the tower.
Vitas said the village had no knowledge of the proposed tower prior to that.

"Of course we were
surprised about (it)," Vitas said. "It was not something we were
aware of until the railroad contractors showed up."

Vitas said CN
negotiators, working with the village on the proposed voluntary mitigation
agreement for increased traffic on the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railroad,
seemed surprised, too.

"I could say the
gentleman I was negotiating with was caught off guard as well," Vitas
said. "Not everybody who was at CN we were dealing with was knowledgeable
about that."

CN spokesperson Patrick
Waldron said the tower, which would be used to communicate with train crews,
was separate from the mitigation agreement.

Vitas said railroads
don’t have to work with the village’s building and zoning department, as they
come under the auspices of the Federal Railroad Administration.

"They could have
chosen to totally ignore our requests and it could be standing there
today," Vitas said.

Vitas said railroads and
local governments don’t have a lot of interaction, unless proposed changes
impacts roads. He was concerned the tower’s earlier location would have hurt
property values. Vitas said CN negotiator Eric Jakubowski was helpful in
getting the proposed agreement.

"The gentleman
agreed it would be foolhardy to stick a 250-foot tower in our downtown, based
on what were trying to accomplish," Vitas said at the meeting. "He
was instrumental in getting that moved."

Trustee Jim Johnson
agreed CN has been accommodating with the move.

"They have
indicated, or tried to demonstrate a willingness to talk, to compromise and to
work with the village," Johnson said at the meeting. "I think the
land swap benefits both of us."

Vitas said the village
would get a prime piece of property on state Route 22, which was
"essentially immediately buildable," from the swap.

A consensus of the board
also approved an "at-your-own-risk" building permit, where CN could
lose any construction on Ensell Road if the board votes down the trade Nov. 16.

Waldron said he didn’t
have a timeline for when construction might start on the new tower location.

The board would also be
considering a memorandum of agreement for mitigation of the CN’s acquisition of
the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railroad Nov. 16. Vitas said the village was
expecting to get about $2 million for mitigation.

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