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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Municipality’s Failure to Follow its Own Zoning Ordinance Not Fatal to PUD Approval

A recent decision by an Illinois Appellate Court has reaffirmed the general rule in Illinois that a court will not overturn a municipality’s zoning decision based solely on the failure of the municipality to follow its own zoning ordinance.

In Hanlon v. The Village of Clarendon Hills, two neighboring property owners filed suit against the Village of Clarendon Hills challenging the approval of a planned unit development (PUD). The PUD at issue involved a multi-unit condominium building in the Village’s B-1 Retail Business District, which was located near the entrance to the Village’s downtown area.  Six months after the preliminary approval of the PUD, the plaintiffs challenged the PUD approval on several grounds, including the failure of the Village to strictly follow the requirements of its own zoning ordinance during the PUD approval process.

The Village approved the preliminary PUD in October of 2013.  The Village’s zoning ordinance contained a provision requiring an applicant to file an application for final PUD approval or a request for an extension within one year of the preliminary PUD approval.  If an applicant failed to do so, the preliminary approval of the PUD would become null and void. In this case, the developer failed to file a final PUD application or request an extension within one year of the preliminary PUD approval.  The developer claimed that the failure to comply with this requirement was due to the uncertainty caused by the plaintiff’s lawsuit.  The Village proceeded to grant the developer final PUD approval in April of 2015, well over a year after the preliminary PUD approval. The Village included in its approval a waiver of the one year filing period and a retroactive extension of time for the developer’s final PUD application in the Ordinance approving the final PUD.

The Plaintiffs alleged that the Village’s failure to strictly follow this one year requirement to file a final PUD application or request an extension of time caused the preliminary PUD approval to become null and void. The plaintiffs also claimed that the Village failed to follow certain setback requirements for transitional uses required under the Village’s zoning ordinance. The plaintiffs contended that, as a non-home rule municipality, the Village must comply with its own zoning ordinance.

In upholding the Village’s approval of the PUD, the court reiterated the general rule that a municipality’s zoning enactment will not be invalidated based solely on the municipality’s failure to follow its own self-imposed requirements. The court emphasized the distinction between the failure of a municipality to comply with its own zoning ordinance and the failure to comply with state statutes governing the municipal zoning process. The court noted that the plaintiffs had not alleged any violation of state statute, only violations of the Village’s own zoning ordinance.  The court therefore held that, even if the Village did fail to follow its own zoning ordinance, such a failure was not sufficient to invalidate the PUD approval. 

The plaintiffs also argued that the general rule regarding a municipality’s failure to follow a self-imposed zoning ordinance applied to home rule units only, and was therefore not applicable to the Village.  The court disagreed, referring to those cases that established this general rule which involved non-home rule municipalities.

This case now confirms that the zoning decisions of both home rule and non-home rule units in Illinois may not be challenged solely on the grounds that the municipality failed to comply with self-imposed requirements. 

Post Authored by Kurt Asprooth, Ancel Glink


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