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Foster & Kleiser v. City of Chicago

OPINION FILED AUGUST 20, 1986.

FOSTER & KLEISER, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

THE CITY OF CHICAGO ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Arthur L. Dunne, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE MCNAMARA DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Plaintiff, Foster & Kleiser, received permits from defendant, the city of Chicago, to erect two electric signs. After plaintiff had erected the signs, the city revoked the permits. Plaintiff filed an action for injunctive, declaratory and other relief, seeking to enjoin the city from revoking the permits. Following a trial without a jury, the trial court held that although the permits were valid, they were properly revoked because the sign structures were immediately adjacent to certain landmark buildings. The court also held, however, that the permits had ripened into property rights and thus plaintiff was entitled to damages. The city appeals from the court's ruling that the permits were valid and had ripened into property rights warranting damages. Plaintiff cross-appeals from the court's denial of an injunction and other relief, and its holding that the city properly revoked the permits.

On February 15, 1983, plaintiff filed applications with the city's department of inspectional services for two electric sign permits. The sign structures were to be affixed to the Chicago Transit Authority elevated railway, hanging directly over the intersections of Van Buren and Dearborn streets, and Lake and Dearborn streets. Plaintiff calculated the amount of the permit fee based on figures set by ordinance for signs hanging over the public way. The applications indicated that the structures were 30 feet above street level and 381 1/2 square feet in size. On April 5, 1983, the department issued permits for the two electric signs. The permits specified that "[a]ll work is to be done in accordance with the ordinances of the City of Chicago."

Plaintiff also applied for zoning certificates from the office of zoning administrator. These applications indicated that the structures were 30 feet above curb level and projecting over the public way. In addition, the application for the sign to be located at Van Buren and Dearborn specified that the sign would be 420 feet from the expressway. On June 28, 1983, the Chicago city council considered the committee on zoning's recommendation that the council authorize the issuance of permits for the signs. The journal of the proceedings of the city council states:

"Ordered. That the Commissioner of Inspectional Services is hereby directed to issue a sign permit to Foster & Kleiser * * * for the erection of a sign/signboard over 24 feet in height and/or over 100 square feet (in area of one face) at [locations].

Such sign shall comply with all applicable provisions of Chapter 194A of the Chicago Zoning Ordinance and all other applicable provisions of the Municipal Code of the City of Chicago governing the construction and maintenance of outdoor signs, signboards and structures."

The city clerk's certification attached to the journal deletes the word "ordinance" and replaces it with the word "order" in each instance. In November 1983, plaintiff installed the sign structures but did not place advertisements on the structures.

On January 24, 1984, the department of inspectional services wrote a letter to the landmark commission, submitting the two permit applications for the commission's review. On the same day, the department wrote a letter to plaintiff stating that the landmark commission questioned the legality of the city council action taken on June 28, 1983. The letter notified plaintiff that the permits were therefore revoked, and would remain void unless approved by the landmark commission.

The structure in question at Van Buren and Dearborn is adjacent to the Monadnock Building, the Fisher Building, and the Old Colony Building, all of which have been declared landmarks. The structure at Lake and Dearborn is adjacent to the Harris/Selwyn Theaters, both of which have been declared landmarks.

On February 2, 1984, the landmark commission wrote a letter to plaintiff stating that pursuant to the procedure set out in section 21-64.1(a) of the Chicago Municipal Code, the commission had unanimously voted that the sign structures were adjacent to certain historical landmarks. The letter notified plaintiff that the landmark commission would not approve the permit applications. On September 19, 1984, the landmark commission conducted a hearing. On October 4, 1984, the commission issued its written recommendations to deny the permits on the basis of its finding that the proposed signage would have a negative impact on the historic and architectural integrity of the designated properties located immediately adjacent to the sites.

On October 29, 1984, and again on April 17, 1985, the finance committee of the city council considered the landmark commission's recommendation to deny the permits. On April 18, 1985, the city council accepted the landmark commission's recommendation and denied the permits for the erection of billboards. Pursuant to section 21-64.1(q) of the Chicago Municipal Code, the following ordinance was passed:

"Be It Ordained by the City Council of the City of Chicago:

Section 1. That in accordance with the findings of the Chicago Commission on Historical and Architectural Landmarks the applications by Foster & Kleiser for building permits to construct billboards on the C.T.A. elevated structures at Dearborn and Lake Streets and Van Buren and Dearborn Streets are hereby denied, and no permits shall be issued for said work."

Plaintiff was notified of this action by letters from the landmark commission and the city dated April ...


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