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First National Bank v. Village of Skokie





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ARTHUR L. DUNNE, Judge, presiding.

MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE LORENZ DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT, AS MODIFIED, UPON DENIAL OF PETITION FOR REHEARING: Plaintiffs brought a declaratory judgment action seeking to have an existing B1 commercial zoning classification declared unconstitutional as applied to their property and further declaring a proposed use for the erection and construction of an apartment building to be proper. On October 1, 1974, the trial court ruled that the B1 classification was unconstitutional, but denied plaintiffs' prayer for approval of the proposed use of their property. On appeal, plaintiffs contend that the trial court erred by failing to grant the requested relief as to the specific proposed use.

The subject property is a trapezoidal shaped lot of approximately 23,000 square feet located at the northwest corner of Harms Road and Lincoln Avenue in Skokie. A two-story, multiple-family building facing Lincoln is located on the southwestern portion of the property. A similar building is located on the southeastern portion. On the northern half of the property is a wooden cabin and a shed.

Directly east of the subject property, on the northeast corner of Harms and Lincoln, is a small office building zoned B1. Similar commercial uses under the B1 classification extend further east along the north and south sides of Lincoln. Directly south of the subject property, across Lincoln, are single-family homes zoned R2 and a small store zoned B1. Adjoining the western boundary of the subject property are several two-story townhouses zoned R3 which extend to Lotus Avenue. A municipal parking lot zoned R4 is directly across Lotus Avenue from these townhouses. A complex, known as the Lotus Gardens, which includes apartments, condominiums and a pool, adjoins the parking lot approximately 250 feet west of the subject property and extends west to the Village boundary and north for 1 1/2 blocks to Saint Peter's Cemetery. The complex is zoned R4. Directly north of the subject property are four single-family residences zoned R2 which extend to the cemetery.

At trial, the following evidence pertinent to this appeal was adduced.

For the plaintiffs:

Paul Jones

He is a real estate developer and salesman. He purchased the subject property for $70,000 in 1971 relying upon the Village's 1969 Comprehensive Plan which showed the property zoned as R4. He planned to develop a three-story apartment building consisting of 12 two-bedroom apartments and 9 one-bedroom apartments and filed a petition with the Village to rezone the property to R4. He submitted a proposed plan for the development which he later stated should not be considered the final plan for the project. There is no demand for further strip shopping property under the B1 classification in this area. However, a substantial demand exists for R4 multiple-family dwellings.

On cross-examination, he admitted that he never inquired about the actual zoning classification of the property. The property has not been advertised for sale as B1 commercial property.

Laura Ross

She resides 150 feet north of the subject property. She is the daughter of the former owner of the property. She approached Paul Jones to purchase and develop the property because she admired an apartment building which he had constructed nearby and because she did not want stores or blank walls facing her home. On cross-examination, she admitted that three single-family houses separated her home from the subject property.

Neil King

He is the current president of a real estate firm and a former member of the Village Zoning Commission. The demand for commercial property in this area has decreased considerably in the past five years. There is an substantial demand for R4 multiple-family property in Skokie at the present time. The most recent rezoning in the area was by a court order which rezoned the parking lot at Lotus and Lincoln to R4. The fair market value of the subject property zoned B1 is $100,000 and if rezoned R4 it would be $155,000 to $170,000. In his opinion, the highest and best use of the property would be for apartments under the R4 zone based upon the demand for R4 property, the increased value of the property, and the character of the immediate neighborhood. On cross-examination he admitted that he would not personally buy B1 property which showed an appreciation from only $70,000 to $100,000 in three years.

Thompson Dyke

He is a planning consultant who advised the Village when it prepared its 1969 Comprehensive Plan. Multiple-family residential would be the highest and best use. He considered the immediate area, the character of the neighborhood, the topography, the relationship to the adjacent streets and the cemetery in reaching his opinion. On ...

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