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Monday, April 15, 2024

In the Zone: Appellate Court Determines Zoning Restrictions From 50-Year-Old Case Still Applicable

An Illinois Appellate Court reversed a trial court’s decision that denied a family that owned neighboring property owners the right to intervene in a 1970 lawsuit in order to enforce certain zoning restrictions and remanded the case back to the trial court for further proceedings. Hatch v. City of Elmhurst

In 1970, four landowners successfully sued the City over zoning rules that prevented them from building apartments. The decision forced the City to allow the project subject to certain restrictions which included prohibiting structures on certain areas of the property unless specified adjoining lots were held by common ownership. The court retained jurisdiction over the case to enforce these restrictions.

In 2017, a developer purchased several of those adjoining properties with the intent to construct parking lots. In 2021, the City held several public hearings on the proposed parking lots, and a family that owned an adjoining lot, unrelated to the original landowners, appeared with their attorney at multiple hearings to object to the plan. Ultimately, the City Council passed an ordinance to approve the parking lots. 

In 2023, the family filed a motion to join the 1970 lawsuit and enforce the zoning restrictions against the proposed parking lots, claiming the proposed project violated those zoning restrictions. The trial court denied the request, and the family appealed.

The Appellate Court disagreed with the trial court's decision to deny the family the ability to join the 1970 lawsuit. First, the Court noted that the court had expressly retained jurisdiction to enforce the zoning restrictions, and when those conditions were not met, the family whose property was expressly identified in the 1970 lawsuit had a unique property interest that supported their request to join the case and enforce the restrictions. Second, the Appellate Court rejected the City’s argument that the family's challenge was actually to the 2021 zoning approval and should have been brought within 90 days of the approval of that ordinance under state statute. The Court determined that the family was enforcing their rights under the 1970 case, and not challenging any City action concerning the 2021 ordinance.

Post Authored by Daniel Lev & Julie Tappendorf, Ancel Glink


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