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08/01/89 Our Saviour's Evangelical v. the City of Naperville

August 1, 1989

OUR SAVIOUR'S EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH OF NAPERVILLE, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT

v.

THE CITY OF NAPERVILLE, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, SECOND DISTRICT

542 N.E.2d 1158, 186 Ill. App. 3d 988, 134 Ill. Dec. 651 1989.IL.1187

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County; the Hon. S. Bruce Scidmore, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE NASH delivered the opinion of the court. INGLIS and WOODWARD, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE NASH

Plaintiff, Our Saviour's Evangelical Lutheran Church of Naperville (Church), appeals from a declaratory judgment that defendant, the City of Naperville, lawfully rejected the Church's request for a conditional-use permit to add property to its parking lot.

A trial was held in this action where plaintiff sought declaratory judgment and injunctive relief against Naperville. At the close of the Church's case, the court entered a directed finding for defendant as to count II of the Church's complaint on the ground that sufficient evidence had not been presented to show that the classification of the Church's property as a conditional use was a denial of equal protection of the law under the Illinois and United States Constitutions. At the Conclusion of the trial, the court held for defendant under plaintiff's count I, finding that the Church failed to meet its burden of presenting clear and convincing evidence to sustain its allegations that the refusal of Naperville to grant a conditional use for the parking lot was arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable.

On appeal, the Church contends that (1) Naperville's refusal to grant a conditional use of the property for a church and religious school parking lot was arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable; and (2) the classification of such use of the church property as conditional was unconstitutional. We find the first argument to be dispositive and need not address the Church's second argument. Family Christian Fellowship v. County of Winnebago (1986), 151 Ill. App. 3d 616, 618, 503 N.E.2d 367.

Our Saviour's Evangelical Lutheran Church of Naperville is an Illinois not-for-profit corporation which owns and operates a church and a school for Christian education in the City of Naperville and adjacent to the subject property. The Church has been at its present location since 1957 and fronts on Washington Street, the principal north/south thoroughfare in Naperville, and is several blocks south of the downtown central business district. The north line of the Church property abuts the Edward Hospital complex, and the south and west lines of the Church property abut single-family residential homes in the same subdivision. The Church originally acquired and improved approximately 135,000 square feet of land and, in 1980 and 1981, two lots improved with single-family residences at the corner of Washington Street and Robin Hill Drive, and adjoining the Church property, were purchased by it, adding approximately 20,000 square feet of land to the church complex.

At the time the Church first acquired property at that location, Naperville's zoning ordinance allowed churches as permitted uses in the R-1 district in which it was located. In January 1980, Naperville adopted a new zoning ordinance in which the Church property and its subdivision are classified as R1A low density single-family residence district. Elementary, junior and senior high schools, golf courses, parks, playgrounds, forest preserves, and single-family detached dwellings are all permitted uses in the R1A district. Religious institutions, civic buildings, nursery schools, preschools and day-care centers, planned unit developments, public and private utility facilities, swim and tennis clubs not-for-profit and senior citizens' group homes are conditional uses which may be permitted in the R1A district.

Each week there are four religious services in the church, one on Saturday evening and three on Sunday morning. There are three church school classes held at the same time as the Sunday services, and classes are also held on Wednesday evening for young adults. There are also Tuesday night adult classes, and the Church has approximately 10 choirs that rehearse in the building during the week. The adult education program involves several hundred adults, and there are 500 to 600 children through grade six and another 100 to 200 children who participate in the religious educational program. Weddings and funerals take place throughout the week as needed, and the Church facility is also used for individual counseling by the pastors. A number of community organizations regularly use the Church for meetings throughout the week, rent-free.

In 1985, a 17,000-square-foot addition was made to the church building, and Naperville then granted the Church a permit for this new construction. Approximately 6,000 square feet of the structure now serves as a sanctuary, providing seating for 520 people, another 6,000 square feet is used for administration purposes and the balance of the 34,000-square-foot structure is used for educational purposes. In 1985, the parking lot was also expanded by the addition of 15 parking spaces. The Church has plans for another major building addition on the site of 12,000 to 14,000 square feet, which will include an expansion of the Church entrance and the addition of a fellowship hall, and is expected to be built in 1990.

The record discloses that at the time the Church was first located at that place it had approximately 100 members and in 1988 membership was approximately 2,900; there are currently 191 car parking spaces on the site, which is inadequate to meet the peak time parking demands. In March 1986, the Church filed an application with Naperville for the conditional use by a religious institution of the two adjoining lots containing single-family residences acquired in 1980 and 1981 as an additional parking area which would provide approximately 57 new parking spaces. In April 1986, the Naperville planning commission by a vote of 4 to 3 recommended that the conditional use requested be granted so as to permit additional parking, subject to the elimination of access onto Robin Hill Drive. In June 1986, however, the Naperville city council denied the Church's application for the conditional use, and this action subsequently ensued.

Factors to be considered in determining the validity of a zoning decision are: (1) the existing uses and zoning of nearby property; (2) the extent to which property values are diminished by the particular zoning restrictions; (3) the extent to which the destruction of property values of plaintiff promotes the health, safety, morals, or general welfare of the public; (4) the relative gain to the public as compared to the hardship imposed upon the individual property owner; (5) the suitability of the subject property for the zoned purposes; and (6) the length of time the property has been vacant as zoned considered in the context of land development in the area in the vicinity of the subject property. (La Salle National Bank v. County of Cook (1957), 12 Ill. 2d 40, 46-47, 145 N.E.2d 65.) The court must also determine whether the proposed use complies with all of the ...


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