Robbins plan for massive industrial complex would displace 100 families

October 20, 2013 (ROBBINS, Ill.)

There is a lot of anger amongst the residents of Robbins over this proposed plan. They say it was agreed to behind their backs, and they have not received any information from the village as to what is to happen to their homes, how they will be compensated and whether any compensation would even be enough for them to find someplace else to live.

"I'm 90 years old. Where can I go?" said Robbins homeowner Iris Nolley.

More than 100 strong gathered on the steps of a Robbins home to protest the south suburban village's plan to turn about 320 acres of land into a massive quarry and underground limestone mine.

The plan, agreed to with a private developer, requires the village to purchase approximately 100 single-family homes, owned mostly by low-income residents. The developer wants the acquisition to be made through a "quick-take" process, which first must be approved by the state's General Assembly.

"This is nothing but a government-sanctioned land grab and we're not going to stand for it," said Rep. Bobby Rush.

Rush joined the residents in opposing the plan, which was agreed to quietly, without most people knowing about it. The village board is set to vote on whether to request the quick-take purchase Tuesday.

"It's very upsetting because I haven't heard anything from the village about this 'til I went to the meeting," Robbins homeowner Eva Butler said.

Long-time homeowners like Charles White, whose home lies atop where the mine would be excavated, said he is worried about the effects.

"We've worked hard for what we got, and we don't want nobody to just come along and take it away from us and tell us you got to go and find someplace else to live. We can't afford to get new mortgages," he said.

The agreement was signed just a week before the current mayor of Robbins took office. In a statement Sunday he said: "What's most important at this time is that our residents be treated fairly and with dignity. They must get their fair share. Therefore, this board has slowed the process down to get clarity and have all of its questions answered of the company in order to provide clear and concise explanations to our citizens. We are extremely concerned about the potential negative impact of this project. So it is incumbent that this administration not move forward in a haze."

The mayor did not clarify what he means by slowing down the process since the board is still expected to vote on the measure Tuesday.

Even if it passes it still has to be approved by the General Assembly. And it might not even make it there.

A circuit court judge is expected to rule Monday on whether to issue a temporary injunction against the quick-take process going forward.

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