APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. EDWARD
F. HEALY, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE DRUCKER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Rehearing denied August 8, 1972.
On August 4, 1964, plaintiff was ordered by the Zoning Administrator of Chicago to remove a signboard it maintained at 3024-26 South Ashland Avenue. The order stated that the signboard was in violation of Section 10.14 of the Chicago Zoning Ordinance. The relevant portion of this section provides as follows:
"(4) No advertising sign shall be permitted within 400 feet of * * * the main roadway of a specified major route if the face thereof is visible therefrom, * * *."
This order was affirmed by the Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals on October 24, 1967. On review to the Circuit Court of Cook County under the Administrative Review Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1967, ch. 10, par. 264, et seq.), the decision of the Zoning Board of Appeals was set aside. Defendants, the Zoning Administrator, the Zoning Board of Appeals and the City of Chicago, appeal from this decision of the circuit court.
• 1 The two issues presented on appeal are (1) whether the signboard is a legal non-conforming use under the Chicago Zoning Ordinance and (2) whether even if the signboard is a legal nonconforming use, the City may nevertheless order it removed under Section 10.14(4) to protect the public's health, safety and welfare under its general police power. Both issues arise within the context of the established rule that a decision of an administrative body should not be reversed unless it is contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence. See Gloss v. Board of Trustees, Firemen's Pension Fund, Ill. App.2d, 270 N.E.2d 472, 474; Sturgeon v. Powell, 1 Ill. App.3d 130, 132, 273 N.E.2d 617.
The facts brought out at the hearing before the Zoning Board of Appeals are as follows: The signboard in question is built on the west side of Ashland Avenue on the south embankment of a right of way belonging to the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Railroad Company and faces in a southerly direction toward the Stevenson Expressway. At that location the railroad and the expressway run parallel east and west as they pass over Ashland Avenue. The signboard is about 160 feet from the expressway and is clearly visible therefrom; it contains an advertisement for a named brand liquor. The area in which the signboard is located is zoned M34 Heavy Manufacturing District.
In 1947 plaintiff's affiliate was issued a permit by the City to construct a signboard on the subject site with the following dimensions: 40 feet long, nine feet high and 15 feet above the ground; a signboard was constructed pursuant thereto. At that time the Stevenson Expressway was not in existence. Plaintiff's counsel stated that the original sign was "nearly but not exactly parallel with Ashland Avenue."
Some time prior to 1964 the sign was redesigned, i.e., rebuilt and greatly increased in height. Plaintiff's counsel claimed that a permit for reconstruction had been issued by the City but produced no evidence in support thereof. Photographs introduced into evidence show that the sign, as redesigned, forms an angle with Ashland Avenue of somewhere between 45 and 80 degrees.
Based on the foregoing facts the Zoning Board of Appeals, in effect, decided that the sign was not a legal non-conforming use and concluded that:
"[T]he said signboard is located in an M3-4 Heavy Manufacturing District; * * * the sign structure was redesigned and the height increased to enable the advertisement to face newly constructed Stevenson Expressway; that no permit was issued for the new redesigned structure * * *; that the signboard is in violation of Article 10.14(4) of the Chicago Zoning Ordinance * * *."
It is undisputed that plaintiff's signboard is within 400 feet of a major route, the Stevenson Expressway, is visible therefrom and is therefore in clear violation of the language of Section 10.14(4) of the Chicago Zoning Ordinance hereinabove set forth.
More relevant to this appeal, however, is the implicit decision of the Zoning Board of Appeals that the signboard is not a legal non-conforming use. It is the correctness of this ...