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Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Court Upholds Village Ordinance Requiring Sprinklers in Commercial Buildings

Two commercial property owners sued a municipality to challenge its sprinkler ordinance. The businesses claimed that the burden to comply outweighed any benefit of having an automatic sprinkler system installed. They also claimed that the ordinance was unconstitutional because it applied to commercial buildings but not residential dwellings and that the ordinance was an unconstitutional "taking" of their property. The trial court upheld the sprinkler ordinance, finding that it provided a public safety benefit that outweighed the property owners' cost to comply. The court also rejected the owners' equal protection argument, finding that commercial buildings and residential buildings are not the same, so they could be regulated differently by the municipality. 

On appeal, the Appellate Court also found the sprinkler ordinance constitutional. The Appellate Court held that there was a rational basis for the municipality requiring automatic sprinklers in commercial buildings (protection of life and property from fire), and the ordinance was not arbitrary or discriminatory in treating residential and commercial properties differently. The Appellate Court also rejected the businesses' takings claim that the ordinance deprived them of all economic use of their land, finding that their properties continued to be used and generated income for the businesses. 2095 Stonington, LLC v. Village of Hoffman Estates, 2022 IL App (1st) 201026-U.


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