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Manger v. City of Chicago

MARCH 11, 1970.




Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. EDWARD F. HEALY, Judge, presiding. Judgment reversed.


Plaintiffs brought an action for a Declaratory Judgment to declare invalid and to restrain the enforcement of the zoning ordinance as it classified plaintiffs' property R-1 and a portion B4-2 and to permit the use of the property for the erection of a six-story, 57 foot high structure consisting of fifty residential units in compliance with the requisites of an R-4 zoning classification. Beverly Ridge Home Owners Association, a corporation not for profit, was permitted to intervene as defendant. A judgment was entered granting the relief sought and defendants appeal from that judgment and contend that plaintiff failed to establish by clear and affirmative evidence that the Zoning Ordinances were arbitrary and unreasonable as applied to the subject property.

The subject property is vacant and unimproved and is located on the west side of Wood Street between 95th and 96th Streets in the city of Chicago. It consists of six lots, with a frontage of 294 feet on Wood Street and a railroad and has depth of 180 feet consisting of approximately 52,920 square feet. The zoning classification of the north 65 feet is B4-2, Restricted Service District, and the remaining south portion of approximately 230 feet is in a district zoned R-1, Single-Family Residence. Directly east across Wood Street from the subject property is an R-4 district, more than 1/2 of which is devoted to the Vanderpoel Public School building and its playground facilities. The remainder of the R-4 zone consists of approximately 68,000 square feet upon which there is a 24-unit apartment building at the northeast corner of 95th Place and a 22-unit townhouse structure at the southeast corner with the remaining structures being single-family residences.

The south side of 95th Street which abuts the north boundary of the property is classified B4-2, Restricted Service District, and covers the south side of 95th from Wood Street to Longwood Drive, the street immediately west of Wood. This strip on 95th is improved with three stores. The remainder of the square block within which the subject property is located, bounded by 95th on the north and 96th on the south, is zoned R-1, Single-Family Residence, and improved solely with single-family residences. The entire adjacent area, approximately one mile west of Wood Street and extending south approximately one mile, except for the south side of 95th Street, is zoned either R-1 or R-2 and contains uses in conformity with the R-1 and R-2 classifications, with the exception of one nonconforming use at 99th and Wood four blocks south of the subject property which is in an area zoned B2-1.

The property fronts to the east on Wood Street and the tracks of the suburban line of the Rock Island Railroad extend down the middle of the street. Wood Street east of the tracks is paved and is used by only northbound traffic, Wood Street on the west side of the tracks is an unimproved road 100 feet south from 95th Street. If improved, it would only reach 96th Street because the Chicago Park District, Ridge Park, precludes any extension. The area adjoining the subject property on the west and south is from 15 to 20 feet higher than the subject property.

Testimony of JOHN TOWNSEND, called by plaintiffs:

He lives at 11650 Longwood Drive and has been an architect for 36 years and has a financial interest in the property. He has designed many residences and office buildings on Western Avenue and apartments on 103rd Street. He identified various exhibits which were admitted into evidence depicting a plat of survey, building plans and sketches. The purchase price of the property, including legal fees, was $100,000 and if the property were developed under R-1, its value would be only $15,000. The property was purchased in anticipation that it could be used as R-4.

The property was purchased a year before the suit was filed and plaintiffs took a calculated risk in real estate speculation in paying $100,000 knowing the true value to be $15,000. Plaintiffs purchased two contiguous pieces of real estate to create the present subject property. The north 60-foot parcel was zoned B4-2 while the other parcel was zoned R-1. There would be no problems about traffic congestion in putting in a driveway for a 67-car parking lot. There are no alleys around any part of the subject property and various services, such as garbage disposal, would be handled through the front of the property. It is anticipated that there would be ingress from 95th Street and egress at 96th, but the street department would have to resolve that question. Except for the R-4 across the railroad tracks from the subject property, the general area is R-1 and R-2.

The single-family homes which abut the property to the west are almost all 3-story buildings and the height of the proposed structure because of the topography would be as low as these homes.

JOHN McNAMARA, called by plaintiffs:

He has been a real estate broker and appraiser for 41 years, having an office at 9046 S. Ashland and is familiar with the property. He has appeared as a witness on zoning matters on behalf of the city of Chicago and County of Cook and has testified as to evaluation and also as to the highest and the best use of property in reference to zoning. He has represented both plaintiffs and defendants and is qualified as an expert.

The property was examined and a series of photographs made and the witness identified them and relied upon them to assist him in testifying.

The 95th Street frontage is what is known as stripped business district facing north and south on 95th Street. It is a B4-2 zone where the property is located. West of the property on Longwood Drive there are seven single-family dwellings, one is brick and six are frame. On the south side of 96th there are two brick residences with their garages bounding the subject property's south boundary (on the plat of survey the brick residences and garages are shown to be on the north side of 96th). The property is covered with brush and scrub trees. There are single-family houses facing south along the north side of 95th Place between Vanderpoel and Wood. If the south part of the property was developed single-family, it would be worth $15,000 to $25,000. The proposed development would enhance the value of the abutting property and would not have a depreciatory effect on the surrounding area.

It would be difficult to value the subject property under R-1 zoning since it has been dormant so long, it is difficult to visualize it as single-family because it is 15 to 20 feet below the grade of Longwood Drive and faces the railroad tracks and you could not get anyone to purchase this property and live there. The homes west of the property on Longwood Drive sell in the $30,000, $20,000 bracket. The proposed R-4 development would not depreciate the value ...

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