APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Lake County; the Hon. FRED H.
GEIGER, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE LINDBERG DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
In No. 79-152, Tollway North Office Center v. Streicher (hereinafter zoning case), plaintiff appeals from an order of the Circuit Court of Lake County upholding on administrative review decisions of defendant, Robert Streicher, the Lake County zoning officer, and of the Lake County zoning board of appeals (hereinafter defendants), that an employees' restaurant serving liquor and operating on a for-profit basis was not a permitted accessory use under the county zoning ordinance in an Office Research (O-R) zone. In No. 79-299, Deerfield Restaurant Complex, Inc. v. Lake County Liquor Control Commission (hereinafter mandamus action), defendants Lake County liquor control commission and its former chairman, Harry G. Robin, appeal from a writ of mandamus issued by the Circuit Court of Lake County compelling them to issue plaintiff, Deerfield Restaurant Complex, a liquor license. These two cases, which were heard separately below, have been consolidated on appeal.
Tollway North Office Center (hereinafter Tollway North) is a complex of office buildings located in an unincorporated area of Lake County zoned O-R. The office complex has approximately 80 tenants and some 2,000 people are employed by these tenants. The controversy that eventually led to this appeal began when the complex's management decided to provide a food service facility. It was to be privately owned and would include both a self-service serving area and a full-service sitdown area with a small bar. Application was then made for a liquor license. The liquor commission forwarded a routine request to the county zoning officer for verification that the proposed use was permitted under the county zoning ordinance. The zoning officer responded that the use was not permitted in an O-R zone.
Tollway North appealed the zoning officer's decision to the zoning board of appeals. At a hearing before this board, a managing partner of Tollway North described the office center. He also testified that Walgreen's, Baxter Laboratories and Abbott Laboratories, all of which were zoned O-R under the Lake County Zoning Ordinance, had dining facilities for their employees. He further testified the Allstate Office Complex in Cook County had dining facilities complete with a full-service area serving alcoholic beverages. Finally he testified that the proposed facility would be strictly limited to use by tenants, their employees and guests. The president of the proposed food service also testified as to its intended use.
The county zoning officer testified that he would have permitted an "employee's cafeteria" similar to those at Baxter and Walgreens. The proposed use was denied because it was owned by someone other than user and because it was to serve liquor. The deputy director of the zoning office testified that there were no similar type employee food service operations in Lake County.
After this first hearing was concluded, the county sought another hearing to present further evidence concerning the operation of food services at other office complexes. This request for a second hearing was granted. A representative of Abbott Laboratories testified that Abbott had two cafeterias and no full-service area. Alcohol was not served, and the company subsidizes the cost of each meal. A representative of Baxter-Travenol testified that his company had a self-service food facility at both its office complexes and a full-service dining room at its Deerfield Complex. There is also a full-service executive dining room. He denied that alcohol is sold at these facilities, but stated that it is given away on occasion. Finally, while these food services are catered by Marriott Corporation, Baxter subsidizes the cost of the meals. A representative of Walgreens testified that his company provides food service in the form of a self-service operation only, that no liquor is served, and that the company provides this service itself. A managing partner of Tollway North testified that one of its tenants had been granted a permit for use of a food service facility consisting of a cafeteria and a full-service executive dining room. This facility was said to be limited to employees of the tenant and to be operated by an independent caterer. This facility was subsidized to the extent that the rental for the space was provided by the tenant. Finally this representative of Tollway North testified that its proposed food service facility would be subsidized to the extent of $300 per day in rent reduction below financing cost.
After hearing the above testimony and the arguments of counsel, the zoning board of appeals made findings of fact and decided to uphold the decision of the zoning officer. Tollway North then sought administrative review in the Circuit Court of Lake County. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 110, pars. 264-279.) The circuit court upheld the board's decision finding that it was supported by substantial competent evidence. Tollway North filed a timely notice of appeal.
Subsequent to the circuit court's affirmance of the zoning board of appeals in the zoning case, Deerfield Restaurant Complex (hereinafter Deerfield) was organized as a nonprofit corporation to operate a food service in the office complex. Zoning authorities issued Deerfield an occupancy permit, and Deerfield then applied to the Lake County liquor control commission for a class A liquor license. The county zoning officer advised the commission chairman that the serving of alcoholic beverages would be inconsistent with the office center's zoning. The commission was also informed about the existence and status of the zoning case. Deerfield's application for a liquor license was thereafter denied.
Deerfield then filed a complaint for mandamus. The complaint alleged that Deerfield had made an application for a liquor license which was regular in form and which fully complied with the county liquor control ordinance. The complaint also alleged that the liquor control commission denied the license application solely on the basis that the building and zoning department was of the opinion that serving liquor in such a facility was not permitted under the zoning ordinance. The complaint further alleged that there were no statutory provisions limiting liquor service to any particular zoning use category and that in the absence of such provisions the defendants were without authority to deny Deerfield's liquor license application.
Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, asserting that the liquor control ordinance specifically authorized the liquor control commission to deny a license to any applicant who fails to satisfy zoning regulations. The motion further alleged that the commission exercised reasonable discretion in denying the liquor license. Finally, defendants maintained that Deerfield is barred from raising questions of zoning in the instant lawsuit as all zoning issues were previously litigated in the zoning case.
The motion to dismiss was denied. Defendants elected to stand on their motion, and a writ of mandamus was issued commanding the liquor control commission and its chairman to issue Deerfield the liquor license. Defendants unsuccessfully sought a stay ...