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Chicago Title & Tr. v. Vil. of Skokie





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. RAYMOND K. BERG, Judge, presiding.


Plaintiffs, Chicago Title and Trust Company, as trustee, and Marie Gatschet, Annaliese Moldenhauer and Eric Moldenhauer, as beneficial owners, filed a complaint for declaratory judgment against defendant, village of Skokie, asking that the village of Skokie Zoning Ordinance be declared invalid as applied to certain real property. Arnold and Marilyn Packer, owners of a single-family residence on a street adjoining the subject property, and 15 other such owners were granted leave to intervene. After a trial without a jury, the trial court on October 29, 1976, entered judgment for plaintiffs, from which defendant and intervenors appeal. The issue on appeal is whether the trial court erred in finding that the provisions of the Skokie Zoning Ordinance, as applied to the subject property, are unreasonable and void.

We affirm.

The subject property is an irregularly shaped parcel of land with an area of approximately 1.5 acres. It is located approximately 158 feet north of the center of Golf Road, on the west side of Laramie Avenue, if extended in the village of Skokie. It is presently improved with a two-story, single-family residence, occupied by plaintiffs Gatschet and Moldenhauer, and a one-story garage used for plaintiffs' upholstery business.

Plaintiffs entered into a contract with Edward Schwartz, a real estate developer, giving him the right to acquire the subject property, contingent upon plaintiffs' prevailing in a request to rezone the property from R-1, a single-family residential district under the Skokie Zoning Ordinance, to R-4, a general residential district allowing multiple-family dwellings. The contract price is graduated according to the number of units for which plaintiffs are able to obtain zoning approval, the price ranging from $155,000 to $240,000, depending upon the density allowed.

The north boundary of the subject property measures approximately 221 feet and is bordered on the north and northeast by Niles Township North High School and its athletic fields. The high school campus is zoned R-1, as is the subject property. The east boundary of the subject property measures approximately 376.65 feet and would form the west line of Laramie Avenue, if extended. The east boundary also abuts the cul-de-sac at the west end of Weber Lane, an improved street with lots zoned R-1 along the north and south lines of Weber Lane. The lots are developed with single-family residences owned by the intervenors. The two westernmost lots have west side yards adjacent to the subject property. The north line of the lots on the north side of Weber Lane coincides with the south line of the high school campus. The south line of the subject property measures approximately 127 feet and borders the area lying north of Golf Road which is zoned M-2 for light industry. The latter area forms the northwest corner of Laramie Avenue and Golf Road and is occupied by a Northern Illinois Gas Company regulator station. The western boundary of the subject property abuts the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad freight line and Commonwealth Edison high tension wire rights-of-way, which are also zoned M-2. The western border of the subject property extends in a northwesterly direction, giving the site a trapezoidal shape.

Opposite the subject property's southeast corner and extending along the north side of Golf Road and east of Laramie Avenue are an office building, carpet sales store, parking and a number of single-family homes. These properties are adjacent to the R-1 residences lining the south side of Weber Lane. The part of the block containing the offices, store and parking is zoned B-2, commercial, and R-1, with a special use permit for the business. The homes are in an R-2 single-family residential district.

Located on the south side of Golf Road, east of Laramie, are a gas station and an office building in a business zone with a special use permit, and vacant parcels of land and some single-family homes in an R-2 district. The southwest corner of Laramie Avenue and Golf Road is zoned M-2 and is the approach to the railroad crossing. Immediately to the west of the railroad on the south side of Golf Road is a B-2 district with a veterinary clinic, a hot dog establishment and some undeveloped property. Extending north from Golf Road along the west side of the railroad is an automobile dealership, in a continuation of the M-2 zone of the railroad and utility rights-of-way.

The Edens Expressway traverses the area in a northeasterly direction west of the railroad and can be seen from the subject property. Approximately two blocks east of the subject property, on the north side of Golf Road, is the Old Orchard Shopping Center in a B-4 regional shopping zone. Opposite Old Orchard along the south side of Golf Road are several single-family homes in an R-2 zone and a condominium development under a special use permit in a B-2 zone. The condominiums are approximately one-quarter mile from the subject property.

Plaintiffs and Schwartz propose to use the subject property either for a 24-townhouse development or a 48-unit condominium development. Under both plans the buildings would be of a contemporary style with landscaping areas and children's play lots between the building units. Access to the site under either plan would be via Laramie Avenue from Golf Road, with Laramie Avenue to be paved to a width of 36 feet to allow parking on both sides of the street. There would be no vehicular access from Weber Lane, an improved street with single-family residences, which intersects the subject property's east boundary at the projected extension of Laramie Avenue.

The townhouse development would be of a two-story attached type. Each unit would have three bedrooms. The 24 units would be arranged in clusters of three and four scattered throughout the site. Each unit would have approximately 650 square feet of living space on the ground floor and 700 square feet of living space on the second floor. The total land coverage of the buildings on the site would be approximately 15,600 square feet or about 25% of the total land area. There would be parking for 49 cars on site, 33 under carports and the balance in open spaces. The building height would be approximately 20 feet.

The alternative plan would provide for a total of 48 condominium apartments in two four-story buildings, one with 28 units and one with 20 units. The 28-unit building would consist of 21 two-bedroom units and 7 one-bedroom units. The buildings would be 37 feet high and cover 28% of the subject property. A total of 95 on-site parking spaces would be provided, 29 inside and 66 outside. The outside parking would be located on the west side of the site, away from Weber Lane.

At the trial expert witnesses were called to testify on behalf of both plaintiffs and defendants. The individual plaintiffs did not testify. One intervenor testified on behalf of all of the Weber Lane homeowners. The following is a summary of the testimony of the various witnesses.

Edward Schwartz, a real estate developer and the contract purchaser of the subject property, testified on behalf of plaintiffs. Schwartz related that there had been two appearances before the Skokie Planning Board for reviews of proposed developments of the subject property. The first appearance pertained to an earlier proposal, which was rejected. The second appearance was for the review of the currently proposed developments. Attempts were made to meet with the Weber Lane homeowners before each Board appearance and approximately six families appeared the first time, none the second. Schwartz also testified that financing would be available if the subject property were rezoned and that the cost of developing the subject property under the present R-1 zoning was unfeasible. On cross-examination Schwartz stated that development of the subject property as it is now zoned would result in dividing the site into six 55-foot lots at a cost of $38,000 per lot. This price includes improvements but does not take into consideration any financing factors. No financing factors were considered because Schwartz ...

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