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Monday, January 9, 2017

Neighboring Village Lacks Standing to Challenge Rezoning & Development Application

A developer filed an application with the Village of Lemont requesting approval of a rezoning and its development plans for property at Grand Road. The application sought to rezone the property from residential to a manufacturing district so they could use the property as a heavy industrial development.  The property was located close to the Village of Willow Springs, which filed a lawsuit asking the court to enjoin Lemont from approving the rezoning and development. The court dismissed Willow Springs’ complaint based, in part, on a lack of standing, and Willow Springs appealed.

A municipality’s standing to challenge another municipality’s zoning decision requires the first municipality to demonstrate that it would be "substantially, directly and adversely affected in its corporate capacity" by the zoning decision. Willow Springs argued that Lemont’s approval of the zoning application would constitute a public nuisance and that it had a real interest in the proposed development because approval of the application would negatively affect the quality of life of its residents, property values and its village’s growth and development.  However, the appellate court disagreed, finding that Willow Springs failed to demonstrate that as a neighboring municipality it was “substantially, directly and adversely affected in its corporate capacity” by the rezoning. As a result, Willow Springs lacked standing to assert a constitutional challenge.   Village of Willow Springs v. Village of Lemont

The court also found no reason to enjoin future action that would prevent Lemont from approving the proposed development, noting that “Illinois courts have long refused to preemptively enjoin legislative action, holding that challenges are more properly made to a law’s enforcement once it has been enacted,” 

Finally, Willow Springs argued that it would suffer irreparable harm because the proposed development is inconsistent with the character of the adjoining area of Willow Springs, resulting in diminished property values, lost property tax, congested roads which are safety hazards and result in degraded air quality. The Court found these to be “exceedingly generic” allegations for proposed new facilities since the development was not yet constructed or operating. The court also acknowledged that the property had been previously zoned for industrial use prior to being annexed to Lemont and that Lemont had planned for industrial use on this property in its comprehensive plan, evidence that tended to support the rezoning application.

Post Authored by Megan Mack, Ancel Glink


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