Updates on cases, laws, and other topics of interest to local governments

Subscribe by Email

Enter your Email:
Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Subscribe in a Reader

Follow Municipal Minute on Twitter


Blog comments do not reflect the views or opinions of the Author or Ancel Glink. Some of the content may be considered attorney advertising material under the applicable rules of certain states. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Please read our full disclaimer

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Chicago's Landmark Ordinance Not Unconstitutionally Vague

An Illinois appellate court recently upheld the City of Chicago's landmark ordinance in a case challenging the ordinance as unconstitutionally vague. Hanna v. City of Chicago, et al., 2013 IL App (1st) 121701-U (unpublished opinion). 
Plaintiffs (property owners of buildings in landmark districts) had filed suit against the City of Chicago on numerous counts, including that the criteria used to make a landmark recommendation (value, exemplary, critical, historic, and significant) were vague and that the City's designation of their properties was unconstitutionally vague and a violation of their equal protection and due process rights.  The trial court had dismissed the plaintiffs claims and they appealed.  The appellate court affirmed that part of the decision upholding the constitutionality of the City's ordinance but reversed that part of the ruling dismissing the plaintiffs equal protection and due process claims.
With respect to the facial challenge to the ordinance, the court held that while the terms may not be "mathematically precise", they all have popular understandings and are used commonly enough to not be considered vague.  The court acknowledged that these and other terms in the landmark ordinance may be somewhat subjective, but that this is to be expected in the area of historic preservation. 
The court also determined that the ordinance did not unlawfully delegate legislative authority because the ordinance contains adequate standards for the landmark commission to apply in making its determinations.  Furthermore, the commissions is an advisory body that makes recommendations to the city council, and only the city council can enact the ordinance designating a property or building as a landmark.
Although the court ruled in favor of the City in upholding the constitutionality of the City's landmark ordinance, the court reversed the dismissal of the plaintiffs' equal protection and due process claims regarding the landmark designation of their properties, and sent it back to the trial court for further proceedings on these two counts.


Post a Comment