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Talarico v. Cook County

OCTOBER 6, 1971.




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


This is an appeal from the entry of a declaratory judgment holding the Cook County Zoning Ordinance unconstitutional as it applies to the plaintiffs' property.

The plaintiffs are Joseph and Mary Talarico, and Joseph Talarico is now operating and has operated for the past thirty-six years, an emergency highway assistance automobile wrecking, towing, parts and salvage business under the name of Speedway Garage, located at Route 30 and Greenwood Avenue adjoining Chicago Heights in Cook County. Under the threat of condemnation proceedings, the Talaricos sold the real estate to the Housing Authority of Cook County in 1969.

Plaintiffs then attempted to obtain a site upon which to relocate the business and entered into a contract for the purchase of a new site about one mile west of the original location. The new site, which is the subject of this litigation, consists of about one and a half acres and is located in an unincorporated area of Cook County. The subject site is in the middle of an area zoned for the heaviest industrial use under the ordinances of Cook County (M-3) and Chicago Heights (G-1).

Under the provisions of the Cook County Zoning Ordinance, Speedway Garage is classified under the caption of a "Junkyard" and as such must obtain a special use permit in areas zoned either M-2 or M-3. In 1969, plaintiffs made an application for the special use permit, and a hearing had before the Zoning Board of Appeals, which recommended that the Board of Commissioners of Cook County grant the permit, based on the evidence which showed all the relevant standards to be satisfied. When the Board hesitated to act for a period of five months, plaintiffs filed a suit in the Circuit Court of Cook County for a declaratory judgment. After the suit was filed the Board denied the application for the special use permit.

The trial judge held the plaintiffs are entitled to the relief sought by them and declared that the restrictions of the Cook County Zoning Ordinance prohibiting the proposed use of the subject premises are uncontitutional, invalid and void as being arbitrary and unreasonable and without substantial relation to the public health, safety, morals, comfort, and general welfare. The relief was conditioned upon the following requirements:

1. That the property excluding the easement be completely enclosed with at least an eight foot high opaque fence and gates, and to be so maintained.

2. That the fence and gates when closed shall be set back no less than fifty feet from the northern curb line of Highway 30 fronting the subject property.

3. That there shall be no stacking of vehicles one upon another excepting when vehicles are being crushed and/or removed.

4. That the plaintiffs shall cause the front yard of the subject property to be lanscaped in a manner compatible with the nearby existing uses and such landscaping shall be maintained.

In an oral summation the trial judge noted that plaintiffs had been forced out of one area and there was no other which is more susceptible to this type operation than M-3 or G-1 areas.

The County appeals from the order of the trial court and maintains the evidence shows the proposed use would be detrimental to the industrial development of the area and would cause property values to decline. It therefore concludes that the allowance of the proposed junkyard on the subject site as a special use was arbitrary and unreasonable.

There was contradictory testimony regarding how the presence of Speedway Garage would affect surrounding property values and the further development of the area. Mr. Rolf C. Campbell, a planner and zoning consultant, testified that Speedway Garage, if located in the subject site, would have a detrimental effect on the development of the industrial park east of the subject site. He also testified that the operation of a salvage yard would not be compatible with the existing industrial uses and concluded that holding back the industrial development would adversely affect the tax base of the area.

Willard Brown, Jr., vice president of Arthur Rubloff & Co., testified that the presence of the yard would make it ...

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