State’s Attorney Glasgow taps prominent Joliet lawyer Michael Hansen to serve as ombudsman for residents impacted by Illiana Expressway

August 29

JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announces the appointment of a prominent Joliet attorney to serve as an ombudsman for landowners whose properties lie in the path of the proposed Illiana Expressway.

Hansen, whose appointment as ombudsman was formalized recently, will serve as an independent intermediary whose role will be to facilitate communication between local property owners and the Illinois Department of Transportation as the state begins to acquire land for the Illiana project.

Hansen has a comprehensive background in state and local laws as they relate to real estate development. As an attorney, he has successfully helped clients ranging from national corporations to local landowners shepherd their development proposals through state, county and municipal planning processes. His background also includes extensive experience in corporate, business, probate and estate planning law.

The Will County Board recently approved an agreement with the Illinois Department of Transportation to hire an ombudsman to provide information to landowners independent of influence by the state or local government agencies. As part of that agreement, State’s Attorney Glasgow was authorized to conduct a search and appoint the ombudsman.

“Mike is a highly respected and knowledgeable attorney who has the strongest legal background to assist property owners who have questions when they are approached by the state regarding the development of the Illiana Expressway,” said State’s Attorney Glasgow. “His sole priority is to present independent, accurate information to landowners who wish to protect their interests as the state project moves forward.”

Property owners can be assured that their consultations with the ombudsman are confidential and that their discussions as well as their identities will not be disclosed to state or county officials. The ombudsman’s duties include:

  • Explaining to property owners their rights pertaining to on-site inspections by state surveyors or appraisers.
  • Educating property owners on state guidelines for property acquisition and relocation assistance.
  • Informing property owners of eminent domain procedures.
  • Informing landowners of the negotiating process for the sale of property.
  • Informing owners of the tiered environmental impact studies required by the National Environmental Policy Act.
  • Acting as an intermediary between property owners and IDOT.
  • Accompanying IDOT officials or their consultants on inspections if requested by property owners.
  • Recommending certified real estate appraisers to assist property owners in their negotiations with IDOT.

Hansen graduated with honors from the University of Notre Dame in 1973 and received his law degree from Drake University Law School in 1975. He practiced law as a partner with the Joliet firm of Herschbach, Tracy, Johnson, Bertani & Wilson from 1976 to 1994.

He has received the highest rating from the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings, and he has been named as a leading lawyer in Illinois through the Leading Lawyer Network in the areas of business, gaming, land use, zoning, condemnation and commercial real estate.

Hansen was instrumental in founding the Empress Casino in Joliet and served as vice president, secretary and chief legal officer for Empress Entertainment, Inc., Empress Casino Joliet Corporation and Empress Casino Hammond.  He also was responsible for the licensing and development of Empress Casino Hammond Corporation in 1995.  From 1999 through 2001, he served as vice president and general counsel for Empress Financial Group, LLC.