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Friday, April 7, 2017

Appellate Court Grants Group another Shot to Challenge Gun Shop Zoning Approvals

Last week, an Illinois appellate court held that “People for a Safer Society” (“PFSS”) will be allowed another opportunity to file an amended complaint to establish the group’s standing to challenge the Village of Niles’ approval of a special use permit for “Howard Venture,” a business with firearm sales, an indoor firing range, and firearms safety training.

After the Village approved Howard Venture’s special use permit, area residents and PFSS filed a lawsuit claiming that the zoning approvals were unconstitutional as applied to them. The plaintiffs were not adjacent or adjoining property owners. The trial court dismissed the amended complaint for lack of standing, and for failing to identify any particular harm they suffered from the approval.

The appellate court stated that plaintiffs are required to assert a “special” harm that differs from the harm suffered by the general public in order to establish standing for their lawsuit challenging the rezoning of a third party’s property. Although the four individual plaintiffs owned businesses in close proximity to the Howard property, the court held that they failed to establish how their harm differed from other individuals residing and working within a two-mile radius of the Howard property. Proximity to a rezoned property alone was insufficient to provide the individuals with an interest beyond that of the general public, so the individual plaintiffs lacked standing.

As to PFSS’ standing to remain in the case, it had alleged that one of its members, New Hope Academy, would have to relocate its school if the gun shop is allowed to open. The court held that PFSS’ conclusory allegation that the school would relocate was too speculative and remote but allowed them to file a second amendment complaint alleging more facts to support their cause of action.

To learn more about standing to challenge the zoning of a third party’s property, you can review the appellate court’s full opinion:  People for a Safer Society v. Village of Niles.

Post authored by Daniel J. Bolin and Amanda Riggs


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