O'Hare Expansion Fight Grounded for Good

City will pay Bensenville $16 million

By BJ Lutz and Alex Perez
|  Monday, Nov 16, 2009  |  Updated 8:21 PM CDT
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Bensenville, O'Hare Announce Settlement

A decades-old fight over the expansion of O'Hare International Airport has come to an end.

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Bensenville, O'Hare Announce Settlement

A decades-old fight over the expansion of O'Hare International Airport has come to an end.
More Photos and Videos

A decades-old fight over the expansion of O'Hare International Airport has come to an end.

Bensenville effectively waved a white flag and brought to end years of lawsuits its residents had filed to stop the airport from expanding into its territory.

The settlement gives the all-clear for new runways to go in, and hundreds of Bensenville homes to be torn down under a multi-year modernization program.

The program -- already started -- will create and expand runways, air traffic control towers and overall capacity at O'Hare.

The municipality's about-face comes under the leadership of newly-elected village president Frank Soto. Former president John Geils opposed the O'Hare plan and successfully delayed it many years.

"At some point, the litigation, and continuing on with the litigation was really of no benefit," Soto said Monday. "It's unfortunate, but this protracted litigation has depleted our financial resources."

The airport will pay Bensenville $16 million, money it says it desperately needs to pay off debt.

Both sides will also agree on terms to demolish the existing home the city has purchased. The village had in the past claimed the city's demolition was unsafe.

Bensenville will also get other help from Chicago to expand its economic development programs.

Chicago remains entangled in a court fight with St. John's United Church of Christ over the city's intention to relocate graves at the 160-year-old St. Johannes Cemetery in Bensenville. The cemetery is in the path of the next new planned runway at O'Hare, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Chicago officials hope to have the O'Hare expansion completed by 2014.

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