Prominent Bill Challenges Eminent Domain

Robyn Gabel has been a Democratic member in the House of Representatives since April 19, 2010.

Courtesy of Illinois House Democrats

Robyn Gabel has been a Democratic member in the House of Representatives since April 19, 2010.

Newly proposed bill HB2558 is something that may affect NEIU’s current eminent domain case regarding the land acquisition of the block of 3400 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.

Robyn Gabel, representative of the 18th district, proposed this new bill to the Illinois General Assembly when the issue had been brought to her attention from several families and members of the community; those who own stores on Bryn Mawr, those who are regular patrons of the stores, and those who own homes both on the street and around the neighborhood.

This bill, if passed, would have an affect over all the public universities of Illinois. It holds that “a public university of this State may not acquire property by condemnation or eminent domain if the university’s current land holdings are sufficient to accommodate the development of the university’s planned improvements.”

NEIU’s existing land may not be easy to transform into housing due to the need for serious upgrades required to provide utility use, according to an FAQ provided by NEIU’s website.

NEIU has three phases in their process in building student housing. The first phase includes using land from the 67 acres on campus, and the second is to acquire the land on Bryn Mawr. A third phase is not certain. In the event that it is put in motion, it will not occur until after 2018.

According to NEIU’s chief of communications, Mike Dizon, construction will start May 2015 for their first residence hall just south of the parking facility.  The university expects to finish construction by August 2016 and have students move in that fall semester.

Right now the university is uncertain if the bill will have an effect on their plans but Dizon shared that they have sent representatives to testify on their behalf at the judiciary committee and that they are “keeping an eye on it.”

Whether or not a passed HB2558 would interfere with phase two is not certain. “I really don’t know,” said Dizon. “I think that’s something that you would have to take a look at the bill language as to whether or not it would actually have an effect on projects that are currently underway.”

Dizon continued, “NEIU will need additional land, specifically the 3401 block of Bryn Mawr, simply because there are no other places that NEIU would be able to build additional student housing.”