Do Billboard Owners Who Are Forced to Remove Their Signs Entitled to Compensation ?

In Department of Transportation v. Drury Displays, Inc., 327 Ill. App. 3d 881, 764 N.E.2d 166, 261 Ill. Dec. 875 (2002), CSX Transportation, Inc. (CSX), a railroad and landowner, executed a quitclaim deed conveying property to the Department of Transportation (the Department). Drury Displays, 327 Ill. App. 3d at 882. On the property, Drury Displays had leased space for a single billboard and the National Advertising Company (National) had leased space for two billboards. Drury Displays, 327 Ill. App. 3d at 882. Rather than terminating the leases by 60 days' written notice as was its contractual right, the Department chose to file a complaint for the condemnation of Drury's and National's leasehold interests in the property. The Appellate Court, Fifth District, held that billboard owners have a right to just compensation for any condemned sign. Drury Displays, 327 Ill. App. 3d at 888. Additionally, the court went on to explain that the 1993 amendment to section 7-101 of the Act (735 ILCS 5/7-101 (West Supp. 1993)) indicates that owners of billboards that are condemned under the Eminent Domain Act, as well as billboard owners who are forced to remove their signs under any regulatory authority, are entitled to just compensation. Drury Displays, 327 Ill. App. 3d at 888-89.