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Weaver v. Zoning Board of Appeals

OCTOBER 23, 1970.




APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. EDWARD J. EGAN, Judge, presiding.


The Zoning Board of Appeals of the City of Park Ridge denied plaintiffs' application for a variance under a zoning ordinance which limited buildings in a commercial district to a height of 40 feet. Upon administrative review the circuit court reversed the decision of the Zoning Board and entered judgment granting such variance. Defendants appeal.

The property in question is located at the intersection of Touhy Avenue and Northwest Highway in the approximate center of the central business district of the city and is classified as "D-D" Commercial Zoning District under the ordinance. The classification at issue provides:

"No building hereafter erected or altered in the `D-D' Commercial districts shall exceed forty feet (40 ft.) in height or three stories".

The zoning ordinance has been in effect since 1928 when the population was 4000. The present population is 40,000.

The property consists of 35,000 square feet of which 18,000 square feet is improved with a three story and basement building housing the Citizens Bank. There are 70 parking places. Two other buildings on the south end of the property which formerly housed a church and a restaurant are also used by the Bank.

The Bank commenced business on this location in 1929 with nine employees, and has now expanded its operations to 200 employees operating a full service bank with drive-in facilities, a safety deposit department and a trust department. The Bank acts as a depository for payroll taxes and receives income tax payments. The Bank has excavated beneath the parking lot for working space for employees, and occupies all the space in all the buildings for bank purposes, except two small offices for the Maine Township Assessor and the Maine Township Collector.

Plaintiffs applied for a variation from the forty foot height restriction to permit an addition of two stories which would raise the level of the main bank buildings to 54 feet, ten inches, and would increase the elevator shaft another thirty-three feet.

There is no detailed plat of the area in the record, but it appears that the subject property is surrounded by commercial buildings for several blocks, except that to the west is a park-like area covering a city reservoir. It also appears that the only exceptions to the forty foot limitation within several blocks of the subject property are the Park Ridge City Hall, 66 feet, the Pickwick Theatre, 42 feet with a tower extending to 96 feet, the Midstates Telephone Company, 88 feet, the Park Ridge Inn, 54 feet, measured at the lower level of a 12 foot grade, the Community Church with a steeple of 104 feet, and 1st Church of Christ Scientist, 50 feet. It does not appear under what circumstances these exceptions occurred, although some of them would be permitted under provisions for public buildings.

Mr. Clyde Borman, president of the Bank, testified that the facilities are so crowded that the Bank cannot continue to operate in the present location without additional office space.

Mr. Ralph H. Martin, a realtor, past president of Northwest Suburban Multiple Listing Service, member of the legislative Committee of the Illinois Association of Real Estate Boards, a graduate of Indiana University School of Business and a graduate of the Real Estate Institute in Chicago, stated that he was familiar with the downtown business area of Park Ridge, that he had examined the proposed expansion plans, and had made a study of the property at Touhy and Northwest Highway. He testified that the present value of the building, without expansion, is $750,000.00, if used as a bank. If it could not be used as a bank, its value is reduced fifty per cent. He stated that old bank buildings are a drug on the market. Older bank buildings such as this one have high ceilings and are not suitable for many other businesses. He stated that upward expansion was the logical course because it is necessary to preserve the maximum area for parking, and that elevation of the building by two stories would not produce a deteriorating effect on the neighborhood, but that having the bank move from the neighborhood would be very detrimental and even disastrous to the area. He gave an opinion that the proposed upward expansion of the building would add $250,000.00 to its value. In support of his opinion he stated that the existing exceptions to the height district limitation had no deteriorating effect upon the neighborhood. He stated that building over the parking area would reduce the required parking spaces by reason of necessary caissons and pillars.

Mr. C.A. Bostrom, project engineer for the proposed structure, testified that 92 parking spaces are required by ordinance for the proposed expanded facility, that this requirement could be met by building higher but could not be met if they built over the parking area.

Mr. Rolf C. Campbell, a city planning and zoning consultant for 15 years, employed by Tex Search, Incorporated, a Bachelor of Science in landscape architecture from Michigan State University with a Master's Degree in City Planning from the same school, also testified to taking courses in traffic engineering. He was employed in city planning by the City of Lansing, Michigan, and had a private consulting service. He testified to working with a hundred communities in planning. He testified to familiarity with Park Ridge, and with the proposed expansion plan. He gave his opinion that the proposed plan was best from the point of view of the Bank and the public. He compared creating additional basement space and expanding horizontally or vertically. In his opinion it would be better planning to leave the open area for parking and to expand the building two stories upward, than to close in the parking area. He also stated that the upward expansion would not alter the general character of the neighborhood.

Mr. Kenneth Gunsteens, a realtor and resident of Park Ridge since 1955, with a degree in marketing from the University of Illinois, a member of the board of directors of the Northwest Suburban Board of Realtors, testified to his familiarity with the downtown and residential areas of Park Ridge, as well as the proposed building expansion. He gave his opinion that the proposed expansion would have no ...

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