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County of Lake v. Gateway Houses Foundation

MAY 8, 1974.

THE COUNTY OF LAKE ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,

v.

GATEWAY HOUSES FOUNDATION, INC., DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Lake County; the Hon. CHARLES PARKER, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE SEIDENFELD DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The County of Lake and certain intervening property owners sought to enjoin the Gateway Houses Foundation, Inc., an Illinois not-for-profit corporation (Gateway), from allegedly operating a treatment center for drug addiction in violation of the Lake County zoning ordinance. The trial court found that the defendant's use was not a treatment center for drug addiction but was a use permitted under the ordinance, and denied the injunction.

On appeal, the County contends that the defendant's Lake Villa Gateway House facility is a center for the treatment of drug addiction within the meaning of the Lake County zoning ordinance and therefore is not permitted in the UR-3 zone in which it exists. The County further argues that even if Gateway's facility is not found to be a treatment center for drug addiction, the use shown in the record was not a principal permitted use under the ordinance and therefore still should have been enjoined for defendant's failure to obtain an administrative determination of compatibility with principally permitted UR-3 uses.

The County filed its original complaint on September 1, 1970, alleging that Gateway was occupying the subject property as a treatment center for drug addicts; that the prior use was as a religious retreat; and that a certificate was required and had not been obtained for the change in use. *fn1 The defendant answered that its use was residential and therefore the same as the prior use; that it had provided the County with that information but that the County had failed to act on its request; and that one of its officers had orally ordered defendant to vacate after previously advising defendant that its use was permitted.

The County filed an amended complaint on October 13, 1970, alleging that defendant was operating a treatment center for drug addiction which is not permitted under the applicable UR-3 zoning. Defendant amended its answer to deny the new allegations and alleged that its use was compatible with group dwellings, sheltered care homes and nursing homes, all of which are permitted in the UR-3 district. *fn2 Upon the intervention of surrounding landowners the complaint was further amended to allege that defendant's use of its property depreciated the value of the intervenors' property.

The Lake County zoning ordinance divides the county into 19 zones. The subject property is zoned UR-3 *fn3 with the stated purpose:

"[to] provide the full range of residential housing types in a high-density urban environment where all of the facilities for urban living, including community sewer and water facilities, are available or can be made available in the future."

The principal permitted uses in a UR-3 zone include apartment houses (20 dwelling units or less), child-care institutions, churches, community centers for public use, homes for the aged, general hospitals, nursing or convalescent homes, schools or homes for the mentally disturbed or retarded or physically handicapped, group dwellings, *fn4 and sheltered-care homes. *fn5

Following the table of principal permitted uses the ordinance further provides:

"The above uses in Table 1 are permitted in the zones designated. However, the Zoning Officer shall have the right to allow any other use which is similar to and compatible with those uses permitted in the zone in question, and which is consistent with the purposes of this Ordinance. Such determination by the Zoning Officer shall be in writing and a denial shall be appealable to the Zoning Board of Appeals. A record shall be kept of each additional use allowed and shall be available for public inspection."

In July of 1968, the Lake County zoning ordinance was amended to create a new category in the table of principal permitted uses:

"Hospital, or treatment center for alcoholism, drug addiction, or similar afflictions."

This use is shown as expressly permitted only in commercial business (CB) and highway commercial (HC) zones.

The facts adduced in the hearing below are essentially undisputed. The subject property, located on approximately 42 acres of usable land on a peninsula between Fox Lake and Petite Lake, is surrounded by water on three sides. The main residence was once a large three-story mansion which had been remodeled by the former owners into a retreat house for communal living. There are several accessory buildings including a two-story residence used by the director of the facility and a coach-house suitable for a ...


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