Posted by: Patricia Salkin | October 12, 2018

IL Appeals Court Upholds Dismissal of Case Involving Development of Land Near Airport for Lack of Standing

This post was authored by Matthew Loeser, Esq.

Cedarhurst of Bethalto Real Estate, LLC, is a corporate entity located in the Village of Bethalto that operates a local residential nursing home. Unique Homes Properties, Inc., intended to develop a new senior citizen residential, nursing, and memory care facility in Bethalto. Cedarhurst filed suit against the Village and its mayor and trustees, contending that the defendants must regulate development near the St. Louis Regional Airport and that the permission defendants granted Unique Homes violated the Village’s 2000 comprehensive plan because the tract of land was too geographically close to the airport. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss Cedarhurst’s complaint, alleging that Cedarhurst had no standing. The trial court granted defendants’ motion, finding that since Cedarhurst was complaining about a third party’s planned land usage, it was required to plead direct personal special injury or damages. As Cedarhurst was unable to plead personal damages connected to Unique Homes’ planned development, the court held that Cedarhurst lacked standing.

On appeal, Cedarhurst claimed that it filed this suit to protect the future residents of the Unique Homes development, as the planned development was located geographically close to a local regional airport. In its complaint, Cedarhurst sought three different forms of relief: declaratory, injunctive, and mandamus. The court found that Cedarhurst made no attempt to claim that it would be directly injured from the planned development of a competing residential facility, and failed to raise any actual or threatened injury that was distinct. Instead, Cedarhurst merely raised safety concerns for the prospective new tenants of the planned development. Furthermore, Cedarhurst had no actual controversy with the defendants in that it did not allege that it possessed a personal claim, status, or right capable of being rectified if declaratory judgment was granted. Accordingly, the court affirmed the trial court court’s holding that Cedarhurst did not have standing to seek declaratory judgment.

The court next noted that to establish standing in a suit seeking injunctive relief, the complaining party must establish that it has a “clearly ascertainable right or interest which needs protection.” Here, Cedarhurst failed establish a personally substantive interest recognized by statute or common law that must be protected. As such, the court affirmed the trial court court’s conclusion that Cedarhurst did not have standing to seek injunctive relief.

Finally, the court noted that to establish standing in a suit seeking a writ of mandamus, the complaining party must establish that there is a “sufficiently protectable interest pursuant to statute or common law which is alleged to be injured.” Here, Cedarhurst was unable to establish that there was a sufficiently protectable interest pursuant to statute or common law that would be damaged because the defendants were not in violation of any zoning ordinance or comprehensive plan then in effect. Specifically, Cedarhurst argued that the mayor did not enforce and follow the 2000 comprehensive plan, which obligated the evaluation of developments near the regional airport. However, the record reflected that the 2000 comprehensive plan was no longer valid, as a revised version was adopted in 2014. Accordingly, the court affirmed the trial court’s conclusion that Cedarhurst did not have standing to seek a writ of mandamus.

Cedarhurst of Bethalto Real Estate LLC v Village of Bethalto, 2018 IL App (5th) 17039 (10/12/2018)


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