An appellate court recently overturned a municipal decision to deny a permit to allow a firing range on property located in a business district. Platform I LLC v. Village of Lincolnwood Zoning Board of Appeals, 2014 IL App (1st) 133923. The owner of the proposed firing range applied for a building permit to construct a shooting range on the second floor of the building above an existing gun shop, relying on the "health clubs and recreation" uses that were permitted by-right in the business district. The village's zoning officer denied the application, stating that a firing range did not fall within the "recreation" use. The owner appealed to the ZBA, which agreed with the zoning officer's interpretation. The owner then appealed to the circuit court, which also upheld the zoning officer's interpretation, holding that the court was required to defer to the village’s interpretation of its own ordinance.
On appeal, the appellate court reviewed the village's zoning ordinance, and specifically the use list in the business district that expressly allowed "health club or recreation facility, private" as a permitted by-right use. The court that the “plain meaning” of “recreation” includes activities for entertainment and amusement, and the zoning ordinance includes “sports” as an aspect of recreation. The court also said that “common sense dictates that target shooting is also considered a sport as it is an Olympic sporting event and a recognized sporting activity within our national college associations and 4-H clubs.” As a result, the court held that the proposed shooting range was permitted in the business district and the permit should have been issued.
The village has since amended its zoning ordinance to specifically address shooting ranges, to exclude them from the definition of "recreation." However, the court did not address the subsequent amendment, instead applying the zoning ordinance as it existed on the date the owner filed its application for a permit to develop the shooting range.
Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink