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Board of Education of Sunset Ridge School District No. 29 v. Village of Northbrook

March 20, 1998

BOARD OF EDUCATION OF SUNSET RIDGE SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 29, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT, E. LEONARD RUBIN AND AUDREY RUBIN, INTERVENOR PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
VILLAGE OF NORTHBROOK, RKZ VENTURE GROUP, L.L.C, ROMANEK PROPERTIES, AND COLE-TAYLOR BANK, AS TRUSTEE UNDER TRUST NO. 94707, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Hoffman

The plaintiff, Board of Education of Sunset Ridge School District Number 29, and the intervenors, E. Leonard and Audrey Rubin, appeal from the trial court's dismissal of their complaint with prejudice on the basis of res judicata.

On December 15, 1988, the defendant, Village of Northbrook (the Village), entered into an annexation agreement with the Society of the Divine Word (the Society). The annexation agreement established the terms for the annexation, zoning and development of a 770-acre parcel of property, commonly known as the "Techny Property," of which the Society was the beneficial owner. At the time the Village and the Society entered into the annexation agreement, Article IV, Subsection F, paragraph 1 of the Northbrook Subdivision Ordinance provided that the Village's Board of Trustees could not approve any final plat for a subdivision until the developer, subdivider or owner of the property presented evidence that it had a written agreement with the local school district for dedication of land, a cash contribution or a waiver of the required contributions.

Section 12(e) of the annexation agreement, however, provided that the Society or the developer of the Techny Property was required to make these contributions to a school district only if that district had an adopted written policy for land or fee donations in effect prior to June 21, 1988. The plaintiff is a public school district which owns property in the Villages of Northfield and Northbrook and operates two schools in the Village of Northfield. It adopted a formula for cash or land donations for developers on September 8, 1988, and informed the Village of that formula prior to the adoption of the annexation agreement.

On August 8, 1989, the Village's Board of Trustees adopted ordinance number 89-50, annexing the Techny property, and ordinance number 89-53, amending the Village's zoning map by establishing zoning classifications for the Techny Property. The parcel at issue in this action was zoned for R-8 multi-family residential use. Also on that date, the Board of Trustees adopted resolution number 89-R-124, which approved certain variations to the Northbrook Subdivision Ordinance. Section 3, subparagraph g of that resolution provided that "notwithstanding Article IV, Paragraph 1, Subsection F of the Subdivision Ordinance" neither the Society nor any developer was required to present evidence of an agreement or waiver regarding contributions to any school district that did not have an adopted written policy regarding those contributions in effect on or before June 21, 1988.

In 1990, the plaintiff filed a complaint against the Villages and Park Districts of Northbrook, Northfield and Glenview, Northfield Township, Elementary School District Numbers 28, 30 and 34 and High School District Numbers 203 and 225. The Society intervened as a defendant in that action. Each of the five counts in the plaintiff's 1990 complaint was based on a written contract entitled the "Techny Area Land Use and Boundary Agreement" (Techny Agreement), which the plaintiff and the original defendants had entered into July 1, 1975. The parties in the instant case do not dispute that the Techny Agreement governed the same property referred to herein as the Techny Property.

In count I of its 1990 complaint, the plaintiff alleged that the Village, which had annexed a portion of the Techny Property, had breached its contractual obligations by passing ordinances allowing land usage, density and zoning inconsistent with the Techny Agreement. The plaintiff alleged that, as a result of the improper development, there would be a substantial traffic increase within its boundaries which would harm the educational environment and endanger the student population. The plaintiff sought injunctions requiring the Village to rescind the ordinances in question, to use its best efforts to require land usage, density and zoning consistent with the Techny Agreement, and to discontinue cooperation with development inconsistent with the Techny Agreement.

In count II of the 1990 complaint, the plaintiff alleged that the Village had breached the Techny Agreement by failing to submit plans for development of the Techny Property to a designated commission prior to adopting ordinances which specified permitted uses for the property. The plaintiff sought an injunction requiring the Village to submit future ordinances or development plans to the commission for review and to use its best efforts to ensure that those ordinances or plans conformed with the Techny Agreement. In counts III and IV, the plaintiff requested an injunction requiring the Village to rescind its annexation of those portions of the Techny Property which extended beyond boundaries established by the Techny Agreement.

In count V, the plaintiff sought monetary damages for the expenses it would incur to preserve the educational environment of its schools and the health and safety of its students in light of the substantial increase in traffic. The plaintiff alleged that such expenses might include physical improvements to its facilities to lessen noise interference and pollution, the purchase, operation and maintenance of school buses, and the enlargement of existing facilities or erection of new facilities to accommodate the increased student population.

On October 9, 1990, the trial court granted motions to dismiss the plaintiff's complaint with prejudice in favor of all the defendants, finding that the plaintiff lacked standing, the Techny Agreement was unenforceable, the action was barred by the statute of limitations and laches, and the plaintiff was equitably estopped from enforcing the Techny Agreement. The plaintiff did not appeal the trial court's ruling.

On October 14, 1996, the Village's Board of Trustees adopted ordinance number 96-46 and resolution number 96-R-155 granting the defendant RKZ Venture Group, L.L.C. (RKZ) a special use permit, site plan and plat of subdivision for a residential 151-unit planned development known as "Royal Ridge." The Royal Ridge parcel, which fell within the Techny Property, occupied 47.95 acres zoned for R-8 multi-family residential use.

On December 30, 1996, the plaintiff filed a complaint against the Village, RKZ, the lessee of the property, Romanek Properties, Ltd., the managing partner of the development project, and Cole-Taylor Bank, as trustee, the owner of the land (the Trustee). In its complaint, the plaintiff alleged that the Village had enforced its ordinance regarding developer contributions to school districts with regard to other school districts but not with regard to the plaintiff and the Royal Ridge development. The plaintiff also alleged that a consultant had projected the Royal Ridge development would increase its schools' enrollment by 76 students, plus or minus 25%, for a 16% increase in student population. In order to accommodate this increase, the plaintiff would need to construct additional classrooms and enlarge areas used for athletic programs, libraries, teaching and technology centers and cafeterias, at an estimated construction cost of $2,293,200. The plaintiff further alleged that the manner in which taxes were levied and collected under the Property Tax Extension Act, which became effective in March 1995, resulted in an 18-month time lag in the collection of taxes on a parcel of property after it became occupied. It alleged that the cost associated with the lag in tax collection for 76 students was $689,396 for one year.

In count I of its 1996 complaint, the plaintiff asserted that it was denied equal protection of the laws because other school districts in the Village had uniformly received land or cash contributions from developers in accordance with the Subdivision Ordinance. The plaintiff requested a declaratory Judgement that the defendants RKZ and Romanek Properties were required to make contributions and an injunction prohibiting the Village from issuing any building permits or permitting further development until the contributions were made.

In its second count, the plaintiff alleged that R-8 multiple family residential zoning for the Royal Ridge parcel was arbitrary, unreasonable and detrimental to the public health safety and welfare. The plaintiff alleged the residential zoning was inappropriate because of the contiguous land uses, including a parcel of R-8 multi-family residentially zoned property being used as a garage and storage facility but under contract to be used as a maintenance facility. The plaintiff alleged that a residential development in that location would create traffic hazards and pose a threat to children traveling to and from school. The plaintiff further alleged that the Royal Ridge development failed to meet the standards for a special use permit under section 11-602 of the Village's Zoning Code, which required that the proposed use be served adequately by essential public facilities, such as schools, and that it not cause undue traffic congestion. The plaintiff sought a judgment declaring the rights of the parties and finding that the special use permit was void because it violated the Zoning Code.

In its third count, erroneously numbered count IV, the plaintiff asserted that section 12 of the annexation agreement, which limited land or cash contributions to school districts, violated the Village's Subdivision Ordinance and section 11-15.1-2 of the Illinois Municipal Code (65 ILCS 5/11-15.1-2 (West 1996)). It requested a declaratory judgment that section 12 of the annexation ...


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