Posted by: Patricia Salkin | February 22, 2020

IL Appellate Court Finds Decision to Deny Variances was Not Arbitrary or Capricious

This post was authored by Matthew Loescher, Esq.

Plaintiffs – the land trust holding title to the property, the beneficiary of the land trust, and the proposed developer of the property—filed a complaint in the circuit court of Cook County following the Village’s denial of their several zoning variances. Despite the Village’s Zoning Board of Appeals voting to recommend that the variances be allowed, the Village Board ultimately voted to deny the variances. The trial court found in the Village’s favor and upheld the denial.

On appeal, plaintiffs first alleged that the trial court erred in analyzing their claims as a facial challenge to the Village’s zoning ordinance, rather than as an as-applied challenge to the denial of their request for a variance from the subject ordinance’s requirements. In support of this contention, plaintiffs pointed to the fact that the trial court found that the Village was entitled to consider the “worst-case scenarios” in the context of determining fire safety risks. The court rejected this contention, however, as the record reflected the trial court’s comments as to the fire safety risk occurred in the context of its analysis of the La Salle factors bearing on the decision to deny the variance. Additionally, the record indicated the trial court expressly noted several times during the proceedings that plaintiffs were bringing an as-applied challenge, as well as stated as much within its written decision. Accordingly, this claim was denied.

The court next found that the Village identified a number of concerns with the public health, safety, and general welfare of the community if the proposed development was allowed, and the “addition of lots of substandard width that were connected to the public way only through an unusual commonly owned private lot did not comport with the character of the neighborhood.” The property was therefore suitable for use as a single-family residential lot, as it had been used, despite the fact that the yard is much larger than others in the area, and plaintiffs remained free to build upon it in accordance with the zoning ordinance. Thus, the court affirmed the trial court’s holding that the Village Board’s decision to deny plaintiffs’ requested variances was not arbitrary or capricious.

First American Bank v. Village of Wilmette, 2019 IL App (1st) 181436 (12/26/2019)

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