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09/22/88 Landmarks Preservation v. the City of Chicago Et Al.

September 22, 1988





531 N.E.2d 9, 125 Ill. 2d 164, 125 Ill. Dec. 830 1988.IL.1403

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. George M. Marovich, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE CUNNINGHAM delivered the opinion of the court.


The three plaintiffs in this action are Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois (Preservation Council), an Illinois not-for-profit corporation whose stated primary purpose is to "promote public appreciation and continued use of landmark buildings"; National Trust for Historic Preservation in the United States (National Trust), a congressionally chartered not-for-profit corporation whose stated purposes are, inter alia, to facilitate public participation in the preservation of sites, buildings and objects of national significance and to preserve and administer properties for the public benefit; and Chicago Chapter, American Institute of Architects, an Illinois not-for-profit corporation of professional architects whose stated primary purposes are to "promote the aesthetic, scientific and practical efficiency of the architectural profession, to advance the science and art of building and to advance the educational standards of the profession."

In the circuit court of Cook County, plaintiffs filed the instant action against defendants, City of Chicago (City) and American National Bank & Trust Company of Chicago (American National). American National was sued as trustee under trust No. 7966, a land trust which holds title to the McCarthy Building, the facades of which building the City declared a Chicago landmark in 1984, but whose landmark status was rescinded by ordinance on September 23, 1987.

Alleging that the procedures used for rescinding the landmark designation failed to comply with requirements of a Chicago ordinance, plaintiffs requested that the court "enter a declaratory judgment finding that the ordinance adopted September 23, 1987, repealing the earlier ordinance which designated the McCarthy Building a Chicago landmark, is null and void." Plaintiffs also requested that the circuit court enjoin the City "from issuing any permit for the alteration, construction, reconstruction, erection, demolition, relocation or other work until such time as written approval for such permit is secured from the Landmarks Commission pursuant to section 21 -- 77 of the Municipal Code." Plaintiffs further asked that the court "enjoin American National, as the building's owner, from taking any action in reliance on the City's attempt of September 23, 1987 to rescind the Chicago landmark designation for the McCarthy Building."

The circuit court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a cause of action. Pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 302(b) (107 Ill. 2d R. 302(b)), plaintiffs appealed directly to this court. Defendants cross-appealed, contending that plaintiffs lacked standing to bring this action. I. FACTS

A. The Chicago Landmarks Ordinance

The Chicago Landmarks Ordinance (Landmarks Ordinance) sets forth procedures for designating a building a "Chicago landmark." This ordinance was amended on March 11, 1987, but the pertinent procedures appearing in the new ordinance (procedures set out in sections 21 -- 67 through 21 -- 73 of the Municipal Code of Chicago) are substantially similar to those in the former ordinance (formerly set out in sections 21 -- 64(c) through 21 -- 64(f) of the Municipal Code of Chicago). The ordinance creates a "Commission on Chicago landmarks" (Chicago Municipal Code § 21 -- 63 (1987)), which is directed to familiarize itself with areas and structures in Chicago and to recommend to the city council designation of certain such areas and structures as "Chicago landmarks" (Chicago Municipal Code § 21 -- 65 (1987)). In determining whether to recommend a particular site, the commission is to consider only certain enumerated criteria which relate primarily to the building's historical, architectural and cultural significance. (Chicago Municipal Code § 21 -- 66 (1987).) Upon making a preliminary determination that a site should be deemed a Chicago landmark, the commission is to request a report from the commissioner of planning. (Chicago Municipal Code § 21 -- 68 (1987).) In the report, the commissioner is to evaluate "the relationship of the proposed designation to the comprehensive plan of Chicago and the effect of the proposed designation on the surrounding neighborhood." (Chicago Municipal Code § 21 -- 68 (1987).) In the report the commissioner is also to make a recommendation of approval, rejection or modification of the proposed designation.

After receiving the report, the commission is to notify the property's owner of the proposed designation and request his consent to the designation. (Chicago Municipal Code § 21 -- 68 (1987).) If the owner does not consent to the proposal, then the commission, following proper notice, is to hold a public hearing. The ordinance provides for participation by various individuals and entities as follows:

"Any person, organization or other legal entity whose use or whose members' use or enjoyment of the area, district, place, building, structure, work of art, or other object proposed for designation may be injured by the designation or the failure of the Commission to recommend designation may become a party to a designation proceeding." Chicago Municipal Code § 21 -- 71 (1987).

Within 30 days following the hearing (if one is required), the commission is to determine whether to recommend the proposed landmark designation to the city council. (Chicago Municipal Code § 21 -- 72 (1987).) The city council is then to consider the findings, recommendation and record of the commission and determine whether to (by ordinance) designate such place or object a Chicago landmark. In making this determination, the city council may, in its discretion, hold public hearings. Chicago Municipal Code § 21 -- 73 (1987).

The ordinance contains an additional provision which, in plaintiffs' view, is of critical significance to the outcome of this case. The provision is contained in section 21 -- 76, and reads, "any designation of an area, district, place, building, structure, work of art, or other similar object as a 'Chicago landmark' shall only be amended or rescinded in the same manner and procedure as the original designation was made."

B. Events Leading to Designation of the McCarthy Building as a Chicago Landmark

The McCarthy Building was designated an official Chicago landmark in accordance with the procedure prescribed by ordinance. Specifically, the commission made a preliminary determination of the building's potential landmark status, and the commissioner submitted to the commission a report recommending the building's designation as a landmark. The commission then notified the owner of the proposed designation and subsequently (following notice to potentially interested parties) held a public hearing regarding the proposed designation. The Preservation Council testified at the hearing in support of having the McCarthy Building's facades designated a landmark, and presumably the other plaintiffs herein could have testified had they chosen to do so. The commission then voted to recommend the designation, and submitted its recommendation to the city council. The city council's committee on cultural development and historical landmarks preservation conducted public ...

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