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Kraegel v. Village of Wood Dale

MARCH 15, 1973.




APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Du Page County; the Hon. PHILIP LOCKE, Judge, presiding.


Defendant, Village of Wood Dale, appeals from a declaratory judgment granting plaintiffs' proposed use of a 200-unit apartment complex and declaring the village zoning ordinance invalid as applied to plaintiffs' property. At issue are the number of units plaintiffs may place on their property.

Plaintiffs are owners of vacant property located near the center of the Village of Wood Dale. The property is presently zoned M-1 (light manufacturing). It is in the shape of a trapezoid bordered diagonally on the north by the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad. North of the railroad tracks is the heavily traveled Irving Park Boulevard along which the land is commercially zoned and used. Along the small side of the trapezoid to the east and the southeast is vacant property zoned R-1 (single family residences). Near the center of the southern border of the subject property are single family residences, and to the southwest townhouse zoning. The only access to the property is from the west by Division Street. To the south of Division Street on the western border, the property is zoned R-3 (multiple family residences); and to the north of Division Street on the western border a small vacant parcel is zoned R-1, above which is a commercially zoned and used parcel.

Plaintiffs' proposed construction consists of five uniform four story buildings with a car-and-a-half parking per unit. The buildings would surround a cul-de-sac along with a recreational building, a pool and deck, with substantial amounts of landscaped green area surrounding the buildings. There would be 200 single and two bedroom apartments, two-thirds of which would be two bedroom.

The zoning ordinance of the Village of Wood Dale proides for R-3 multiple family residence districts with certain area-per-dwelling unit limitations. Under R-3 zoning of the subject property, plaintiffs would be entitled to construct approximately 177 units.

The village zoning ordinance also contains a special use provision under which is the subcategory of "Planned Unit Developments". Special uses are designated such in the ordinance because their unique character "cannot be properly classified in any particular district or districts without consideration in each case of the impact of those uses upon neighboring lands and upon the public need for the particular use of the particular location." No special use may be granted by the village unless the proposed use:

"a. is deemed necessary for the public convenience at the location;

b. is so designed, located and proposed to be operated that the public health, safety and welfare will be protected;

c. will not cause substantial injury to the value of other property in the neighborhood in which it is located;"

Allowable special uses include, for example, hospitals and clinics, sanitariums, and libraries.

As part of the Village of Wood Dale's zoning scheme, planned developments may be characterized as a special type of special use. According to the village ordinance they are "of such substantially different character from other special uses that specific and additional standards" are set out for them. A planned development is defined under Section III of the ordinance as a "lot, parcel or tract of land which is developed as an integrated unit and contains two or more principal buildings". The ordinance also states that planned developments must be necessary, desirable, and appropriate with respect to the primary purpose of the development, and not be of such a nature or so located as to exercise a detrimental influence on the surrounding neighborhood. Exceptions to applicable bulk regulations are allowable in the case of a planned development if "the minimum lot-area-per-dwelling-unit requirements of this ordinance would not be decreased by more than 15 percent in any such development containing residential uses * * *." It is conceded that the proposed 200 unit apartment complex does not exceed the R-3 area-per-dwelling unit limitations by more than 15%.

The proceedings below are not entirely free from ambiguity. Plaintiffs initially petitioned the village to rezone the subject property R-3 and apparently also requested planned development status so as to qualify for the 15% "bonus" factor under the planned unit development provisions of the village ordinance. The Plan Commission recommended that the subject property be rezoned R-3, and consistent with R-3 area-per-dwelling unit limitations, that plaintiffs be limited to 170 units. The village counsel refused plaintiffs' application and the property remained zoned M-1. It is not clear from the record whether the village council's refusal to rezone to R-3 as recommended by the Plan Commission was due to plaintiffs' insistence on the bonus units in excess of R-3 limitations.

After denial of their application, plaintiffs brought the present declaratory judgment action. The initial complaint requested the zoning ordinance be declared unconstitutional and invalid as applied to the subject property and requested rezoning to R-3. During the trial, an amended complaint was filed alleging plaintiffs' proposed construction of the 200-unit complex, and requesting that the proposed use be allowed free from the restrictions of the village's zoning ordinance. The judgment of the trial court found the zoning ordinance confiscatory without any corresponding benefit to the public and allowed plaintiffs' specific proposed use. There was no mention either in the original complaint, the amended complaint, or the court's judgment order of the special use and planned development provisions of the village's zoning ordinance.

The village concedes that the subject property should be zoned R-3, but contends that the proposed use qualifies neither generally as a special use nor in particular as a planned development under the zoning ordinance. The village argues that the proposed use does not constitute a special use because there is no evidence that the construction of 200 dwelling units on the property, rather than the number of units permitted under an R-3 zoning district, is necessary for the public convenience; and additionally that the public safety and welfare will not be protected by constructing the 200 units because of potential fire-safety problems. The village also argues that the proposed use does not constitute a special use because the apartment complex is not something of ...

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