Judges Rule in Favor of Grave Removal Near O'Hare - NBC Chicago

Judges Rule in Favor of Grave Removal Near O'Hare

Appeal's court upholds cemetery acquisition



    Celebrate This Holiday Season in Lively St. Charles

    A Chicago based appellate court ruled last week that an O'Hare expansion project could begin again, despite concerns from religious leaders that the construction would upset the eternal resting place of 1000s of dead.

    The church that operates a cemetery near O'Hare Airport lost its appeal with Illinois Appellate Court over grave removal, and now they'll have to take their interment fight to the Illinois Supreme Court to block an O'Hare modernization project that's cutting through the final resting place of hundreds of individuals.

    The ruling by a three-judge panel for the 2nd District Appellate Court on Monday upheld an earlier decision by a DuPage County judge saying the city had legally condemned a 5-acre site near the airport and had the right to remove about 1,000 graves as part of the O'Hare Modernization Program, the Chicago Tribune reports.

    The city paid $630,000 for the cemetery site and dozens of graves had already been removed with permission of the families of the deceased. But the appeals court halted further removals in February pending on it's ruling.

    St. John's United Church of Christ owns the 161 year old cemetery. They have opposed the plan since the beginning, saying it violates it's religious principles. "We will continue to seek further legal relief, starting with asking the Appellate Court to reconsider its ruling," said Joseph Karaganis, the attorney for the church, to the Chicago Tribune.

    The city must still work with families whose relatives are buried in the cemetery in order to move forward with the $15 billion O'Hare airport project. 

    "We realize this is a very sensitive matter and we are committed to working closely with the families, as well as the officials from St. John's United Church of Christ to continue the relocation process," Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino said in a statement.

    It's not clear when construction will begin.