Posted by: Patricia Salkin | October 15, 2018

IL Appeals Court Refuses to Order Village to Block Senior Housing Project

This post was authored by Amy Lavine, Esq.

In an Illinois decision from 2018, Cedarhurst of Bethalto Real Estate, LLC v. Village of Bethalto, the court dismissed claims seeking to compel a village to comply with the comprehensive plan. The plaintiff had alleged, in particular, that the village was “obligated” under the comprehensive plan to evaluate property developments near the regional airport and to prevent the approval of a senior housing development that was allegedly too close to the airport’s flight paths. The trial court dismissed each of the plaintiffs’ claims for lack of standing, and the court affirmed this decision on appeal.

With regard to the plaintiff’s claim for declaratory relief, the court emphasized that to establish standing, there had to be an actual controversy and the plaintiff had to possess some personal claim or cognizable interest at stake in that controversy. Neither of these elements was met in this case, however. As the court noted: “Cedarhurst makes no attempt to claim that it would be directly injured from the planned development of a competing residential facility, i.e., it raises no actual or threatened injury that is distinct. Instead Cedarhurst raises safety concerns for the prospective new tenants of the planned development. Furthermore, Cedarhurst has no actual controversy with the defendants in that it does not allege that it possesses a personal claim, status, or right capable of being rectified if declaratory judgment was granted…. Cedarhurst’s property is not located near the tract of land at issue, and any claimed violations cause no direct impact to Cedarhurst. Although Cedarhurst is a citizen of the Village, none of the problems and/or violations it claims would occur if the development is allowed to proceed have any direct link to or impact upon Cedarhurst.” The court next addressed the plaintiff’s request for injunctive relief and again found a lack of standing, as it had not established any “clearly ascertainable right or interest which needs protection.”

In its last point of review, the court also refused the plaintiff’s request for a writ of mandamus to compel the mayor to enforce and comply with and the comprehensive plan and to prevent the approval of the senior housing development. Although the court acknowledged that “there are situations where a complaining party is able to act for the public at large in seeking a writ of mandamus to compel some action by a public official or body,” this simply was not such a case. To begin with, the court explained that the comprehensive plan was merely an advisory document and thus it could not support the three criteria needed to establish standing to seek a writ of mandamus: (1) a clear, affirmative right to relief, (2) a clear duty of the public officer to act, and (3) clear authority in the public officer to comply. Moreover, the comprehensive plan that the plaintiff sought to enforce had been issued in 2000 and was no longer valid, as it had been superseded by a newer version issued in 2014. Accordingly, the court agreed with the decision below that “even if Cedarhurst had standing to maintain this suit, the Village did not violate any ordinance that could result in a legitimate claim.”

Cedarhurst of Bethalto Real Estate, LLC v. Vill. of Bethalto, 2018 IL App (5th) 170309 (10/12/18).


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