Lawsuit for Alleged Damages Suffered by Delay In Exercising Eminent Domain Power Over Land

In Eckhoff v. Forest Preserve District of Cook County, 377 Ill. 208, 36 N.E.2d 245 (1941), the defendant adopted recommendations to create a forest preserve that would contain a portion of the plaintiffs' land. The plaintiffs sued for alleged damages suffered by the defendant's 13-year delay in exercising its eminent domain power over the plaintiffs' land. In denying damages, the supreme court explained that "the fact that at some future time a municipal corporation, with power of eminent domain, may require the land of a private owner, is one of the conditions on which the owner holds land in this State. Entering into negotiations for the purchase, and filing of a petition to condemn, vests no interest in land." Eckhoff, 377 Ill. at 214. The court further stated that the "taking or damaging of land by eminent domain is not accomplished by passing resolutions or ordinances, nor by negotiating with the owner for the purchase of it, or serving notices upon him that the land may be required for public purpose." Eckhoff, 377 Ill. at 214. Therefore, plaintiffs contend, the mere passing of the amended ordinance did not result in a taking and the taking occurred only when the City issued the tickets more than seven years later. In Eckhoff, the court concluded that the "passing of resolutions or ordinances" did not amount to a taking in that case because the landowners were not "restricted in the use or occupancy of their property" upon the enactment of the resolutions. Eckhoff, 377 Ill. at 215.