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La Salle Nat'l Bank v. County of Lake

MARCH 21, 1975.




APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Lake County; the Hon. FRED H. GEIGER, Judge, presiding. MR. JUSTICE GUILD DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The plaintiffs, who are the title holders of record under a land trust, the agent under the land trust and the contract purchaser of the land in question, filed a multicount complaint for declaratory judgment in the trial court. The complaint essentially sought various forms of relief which would permit the building of a planned-unit development consisting of 183 acres of the existing 255 acres of land now the Antioch Country Club. The trial court dismissed the plaintiffs' complaint for declaratory judgment and other relief, and this appeal followed.

The issue before this court is whether the denial of the special-use permit and whether the existing zoning classification as applied to the subject property is so arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable that it denies the plaintiffs due process of law.

The subject property is that portion of the Antioch Country Club which lies directly south of Grass Lake Road and directly west of Illinois Route 59. The property is in the Chain-of-Lakes region of Lake County and is located 16 miles west of Lake Michigan, 54 miles from Chicago and 2 1/2 miles south of the center of the Village of Antioch. 188 acres are developed as an 18-hole semi-private golf club. There is a clubhouse, a swimming pool and tennis courts presently on the site. A portion of the property fronts on a channel that connects Bluff Lake and Petite Lake at the southwest corner of the property.

The planned-unit development would consist of a variety of housing including single-family homes, garden apartments, townhouses and low-rise apartments and a proposed commercial area to be located at the southwest corner of the intersection of Grass Lake Road and Route 59. The golf course would be retained as an integral recreational feature of the plan. A 2-acre site on the property would be devoted to a sewage-treatment plant. This site would be totally surrounded by the golf course and screened from view. The plant proposed would be donated to the County and operated by the County until it would be phased out when an interceptor sewer would be constructed on Route 59. At the time of the sewer connection the developer, at his expense, would run the interceptor line north in Route 59 to the south line of the project, and the developer would install a forced main from the treatment plant to the interceptor. When this was done the proposed treatment plant would be disassembled. At the request of the Lake County Director of Public Works, the design of the treatment plant was changed so that it would be able to be dismantled and used elsewhere by Lake County after the plant was removed from service.

Lastly, a small marina and clubhouse would be built at the southwest corner of the property at the channel which connects Bluff Lake and Petite Lake. Additionally, recreational areas other than the golf course would be provided throughout the property.

Essentially, the subject property is bounded on all sides by single-family residences or areas zoned urban residential (UR-3) providing for single-family and multifamily homes.

The planned-unit development would provide for a convenience center located at the northeast corner of the property at the intersection of Grass Lake Road and Route 59. The other three corners at this intersection are presently zoned highway commercial (HC) under the county ordinances.

The principal portion of the Lake County Zoning Ordinance involved in this case is found in article four, section IV — Planned Development (a conditional use). This ordinance describes in detail the procedure that must be followed in seeking a conditional-use permit for a planned-unit development. The ordinance requires pre-application conferences with the Planning Commission, Health Department, Public Works Department, Building and Zoning Department, Highway Department, Lake County Soil and Water Conservation District, and school districts. Application for a planned-unit development is made on forms supplied by the Planning Commission and then submitted to the staff of the Planning Commission who initially determine whether the application is in proper form. The initial application may be an "outline development plan" or a "preliminary development plan." The data required in the outline development plan is not as detailed as that required in a preliminary development plan. The Planning Commission reviews the plan and forwards the same with a written report recommending that the plan be approved, approved with modifications or disapproved, and it must give reasons for its recommendations to the Zoning Board within 90 days after receipt of the plan. The Zoning Board, upon receipt of the Planning Commission's report, then conducts a public hearing and within 90 days after its hearing it must approve, approve with modifications, or disapprove the plan and make its recommendation to the County Board. The County Board shall then approve, approve with modifications, or disapprove the plan. Within 1 year following the approval of the preliminary development plan by the County Board, an applicant must then submit a final development plan to the Planning Commission which, in turn, reviews the same and certifies to the County Board that it is in substantial compliance with the preliminary development plan. If it is not, it is referred back to the Zoning Board for a public hearing.

In the case before us the plaintiffs followed all of the above procedures and the Planning Commission approved the plan with certain agreed upon modifications. The Planning Commission then approved the Antioch Country Club Planned Development and so notified the Zoning Board. The Zoning Board then held the required public hearings and adopted a resolution recommending that the plan not be approved and denied plaintiffs' request for a conditional-use permit for its preliminary development plan, stating:

"Inasmuch as this Board was established to represent the people of Lake County, it felt that the overwhelming objections offered to this proposal should be of prime consideration in making its decision. The Board is of the opinion that a planned development at this location is premature at this time."

The Lake County Board of Supervisors subsequently adopted a resolution denying plaintiffs' request for a conditional-use permit for a preliminary development plan, and, following the trial court's dismissal of plaintiffs' complaint for declaratory judgment, this appeal followed.

• 1 At this point it is to be noted that the Planning Commission directed the plaintiffs to meet with school districts Nos. 33, 36 and 117. Plaintiffs did, in fact, meet with these school districts and made an offer of cash contribution. Two of the school districts rejected the offer. The school districts obtained leave to intervene in the trial court but were subsequently dismissed out. None of the intervenors has perfected an appeal from the order of dismissal. It is expressly to be noted in connection with this issue that the supreme court has recently ruled on the validity of a requirement that a developer contribute cash or property to a school district as a condition to obtaining a variance or a special-use permit. See Duggan v. County of Cook (1975), 60 Ill.2d 107, 117, where the court specifically held:

"We also concur that there is no power under the guise of zoning authority to require the payment of a sum of money to a school district as a condition of the zoning."

See also Rosen v. Village of Downers Grove (1960), 19 Ill.2d 448, 453-54, 167 N.E.2d 230, 234; Pioneer Trust and Savings Bank v. Village of Mount Prospect (1961), 22 Ill.2d 375, 176 N.E.2d 799.

The plaintiffs attack the denial of the special-use permit on two grounds: (1) that the denial of the special-use permit itself was so arbitrary and capricious that it denied plaintiffs due process of law, and (2) that the underlying zoning is unconstitutional as applied to the property.

The County contends that the County Board's decision to deny the permit, a legislative decision, cannot be reviewed by this court as the County Board need not follow precise standards. Rather, they argue, the plaintiffs can only question the decision by attacking the ...

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