- The state failed to close its blight loophole by continuing to allow blight designations by area using extremely vague factors.
- Agricultural land was protected from private development, but other properties remain at risk.
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|Senate Bill 3086
Sponsored by: State Senator Susan Garrett
Status: Signed into law on July 28, 2006.
Illinois presents another example of eminent domain reform that sounds more impressive than it really is. The Illinois General Assembly passed Senate Bill 3086 (2006), which purportedly limits the taking of private property for private development. This might be technically true, as the new law generally does prohibit government officials from condemning property for private development. But the legislature built in exceptions that significantly undermine the good that the bill otherwise might have done. The new law still allows the use of eminent domain to acquire property in a so-called blighted area. While at least five factors must be present for an area to qualify as blighted, the vague and illogical list of factors for a blighted area represent some of the worst examples in law, including “obsolescence,” “excessive vacancies,” “excessive land coverage,” “deleterious layout,” and “lack of community planning.” The bill also still allows condemnations for private development, as long as economic development is a “secondary purpose” to the primary purpose of urban renewal “to eliminate an existing affirmative harm on society from slums to protect public health and safety.”
Since the state’s statutes still allow entire areas to be designated blighted on account of a few properties, the threat of eminent domain abuse still looms large in Illinois. SB 3086 did improve the situation by prohibiting the seizure of “production agriculture” for private development and by requiring the government to prove that an area is blighted before a condemnation can proceed. But unless citizens convince the General Assembly to create a tighter definition of blight and to assess properties on a parcel-by-parcel basis, Illinois will not avoid eminent domain abuse similar to that evidenced in Kelo.