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Cos Corp. v. City of Evanston

OPINION FILED MARCH 25, 1963.

THE COS CORPORATION, APPELLEE,

v.

THE CITY OF EVANSTON ET AL., APPELLANTS.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. CHARLES S. DOUGHERTY, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE HERSHEY DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied May 29, 1963.

This is an appeal from the judgment of the circuit court of Cook County issuing a writ of mandamus directing defendants, City of Evanston, Gordon Maltby, as assistant director of buildings of said city, or his successor in office, and Bert Johnson, as city manager, to forthwith issue to plaintiff a permit to construct and erect a building in accordance with a certain building permit application and plans, and to desist from interfering with the construction, erection and maintenance of the proposed building upon plaintiff's property. The trial court has certified that the validity of a municipal ordinance is involved and that the public interest requires a direct appeal to this court.

The property involved is a triangular tract of approximately two thirds of an acre near the intersection of Ridge Road and Central Street in the city of Evanston. It is referred to as lot "B", is a tract south of an east-west street known as Central Street, and is separated from Central Street by a block of land improved with business buildings and commercial uses. It is bounded on the west by the Chicago Transit Authority right of way and on the east by a block of land facing Ridge Road. Ridge Road runs in a generally northeasterly and southwesterly direction and intersects Central Street north of the property involved. Access to the property involved is from Ridge Road westerly and along the south line of the other property facing Ridge Road and of the property involved by an alley 20 feet in width. A residence is located on each side north and south of the alley entrance west off of Ridge Road.

The triangular tract, lot "B", was zoned for "C-2" commercial purposes under the comprehensive amendment to the Evanston zoning ordinance effective December 2, 1960. Under that ordinance, the permitted uses of this property included "Offices — Business and Professional," and "Medical and Dental Clinics." The 1960 zoning ordiance also included off-street parking requirements for professional office buildings of one parking space for each 500 square feet of floor area in excess of 4000 square feet. Medical and dental clinics require two parking spaces for each staff doctor and dentist.

Plaintiff, a corporation, was organized by a group of 24 physicians and one dentist, who are on the staff of the Evanston hospital. In 1959, several of these persons formed a group, headed by Dr. Hohf, for the purpose of raising funds, securing property, and constructing a medical building near the hospital. They considered various sites.

Beginning May, 1961, Dr. Hohf and others of the doctors acquired the parcels of land to the east and southeast of lot "B", being some five houses fronting on Ridge Road, at a cost of $189,875. The doctors engaged architects to make a site study and determine whether lot "B" was suitable for the project and properly zoned. In June of 1961, a contract was entered into with the architects on the basis of an estimated construction cost of $1,200,000, which committed to an architect fee of $90,000. Further, in June of 1961, Dr. Hohf took an option on lot "B" and three narrow, vacant lots zoned residential and fronting on Ridge Road for $47,000. On October 17, 1961, this option was exercised and the property was conveyed to Dr. Hohf and reconveyed to the Chicago Title and Trust Company as trustee under a trust which later held title to all properties acquired by the doctors. The property, including lot "B", was conveyed by the trust company to plaintiff corporation on December 1, 1961.

All of the properties acquired by plaintiff which fronted on Ridge Road east of lot "B" were zoned residential and had some five houses on them.

The sum of $73,800.00 was paid on the architect's fee prior to February 23, 1962, and $75,960 by March 31, 1962. Also, it appears that legal and organizational expenses of some $9,669.88 were incurred from February, 1961, to January, 1962, although plaintiff's offer of proof on this expenditure was refused.

From September 29, 1961, through early November, 1961, plaintiff's architects discussed with city officials the drawings and plans of the proposed building to be erected on lot "B", and, on at least three occasions during these dates, the approval of the city building commissioner, building inspector, and other officials of the city was given to the plans.

A building permit was applied for on November 30, 1961, with plans attached, applying to build on lot "B" a four-story structure of reinforced concrete with aluminum and glass curtain wall enclosures, containing approximately 44,000 square feet. The plans provided for parking spaces on said tract for 72 full-sized cars and 2 small cars, along with 38 parking spaces on land to the west leased from Chicago Transit Authority. The plans also included a proposed east-west driveway from Ridge Road over about the center of the block through the residential property to lot "B". The houses on the residential area were to be razed.

The traffic engineer of the city requested the plans and approved the parking area layout December 4, 1961. However, due to objections by city officials to the proposed driveway, this driveway was deleted by a revised drawing submitted on December 29, 1961. The plaintiff offered to dedicate any additional access facilities the city might request.

The building permit was not issued although no reason was ever given for failure to issue the permit, nor was there ever made a statement that the permit would not be issued. A formal demand for issuance of the permit was made on behalf of plaintiff on January 31, 1962, and on February 9, 1962, this suit for mandamus for issuance of the permit was filed.

On November 21, 1960, the city of Evanston had adopted a comprehensive zoning ordinance effective December 2, 1960, based on a study begun in 1957 by a city planning firm. Under this ordinance, off-street parking requirements were ...


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