The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Gallagher
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County Honorable Stephen A. Schiller, Judge Presiding.
This is an action for administrative review of a decision by the Plan Commission of the City of Chicago (Plan Commission or Commission) approving an application of the Museum of Science and Industry (the Museum). In its application, the Museum sought the Plan Commission's approval for its plans to expand and renovate its facilities. Such approval is required by the Lake Michigan and Chicago Lakefront Protection Ordinance (Ordinance) before a property owner can make physical changes in designated lakefront districts. Chicago Municipal Code §16--4--010 et seq. (1990).
The Ordinance is expressly intended, among other things, to: (1) promote and protect the people's health, safety, comfort, convenience, and general welfare; (2) conserve natural resources; (3) ensure that the lakefront parks and the lake itself are devoted to public purposes; (4) ensure the integrity of and expand the quantity and quality of the lakefront parks; (5) promote and provide for continuous pedestrian movement along the shoreline; (6) promote and provide for pedestrian access to the lake and lakefront parks from adjacent areas, and enhance visits to these locations; and (7) promote and provide for improved public transportation.
Eleanor Petersen, along with other individuals and organizations (plaintiffs), filed a response with the Plan Commission objecting to the Museum's application. The Plan Commission held a public hearing for organizations, elected officials and members of the public including plaintiffs to express their support for or opposition to the application. After the hearing, the Plan Commission unanimously approved the application.
Plaintiffs filed a petition for common law writ of certiorari in the circuit court, which subsequently affirmed the decision of the Plan Commission. Plaintiffs filed this appeal. We affirm.
The Plan Commission is the agency of the City of Chicago responsible for the administration of the Ordinance for the protection of the city's lakefront. The Museum is a nonprofit corporation in the City of Chicago, located at 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive. It occupies a portion of Jackson Park, a lakefront park owned by the Chicago Park District.
In 1993, the Museum adopted a comprehensive master plan known as MSI-2000 (the Plan) to ensure that the 100-year-old Museum building and exhibit space would continue to operate as a world class cultural institution into the next century. The Museum's plan proposed significant improvements to the Museum facilities and surrounding property.
In May 1995, the Plan Commission approved the application filed by the Museum under the Ordinance for implementation of the first phase (Phase I) of the Museum's plan. Phase I involved building an underground parking garage beneath the surface parking lot immediately to the north of the Museum.
Later that same month, the Museum filed an application with the Plan Commission for approval of the second phase (Phase II) of its plans to renovate and expand its facilities. Phase II includes, among other things, the renovation and expansion of the existing Henry Crown Space Center and construction of a new wing at the southwest corner of the Museum for use as a science learning center.
Before submitting the application for Phase II, the Museum met with a number of government entities and community organizations to address concerns about the expansion. These included local aldermen, the Chicago Park District, the Department of Planning and Development, the Department of Streets and Sanitation, the Department of Environment, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, zoning committee of the Chicago city council, and community and park groups, including plaintiffs. The Museum modified its plans in response to the concerns expressed by some of these entities. In its final form, Phase II had the support of several organizations and institutions, including the University of Chicago, Hyde Park Career Academy, Woodlawn Preservation and Investment Corporation, Woodlawn Community Development Corporation, Woodlawn Organization, and Alexandre Dumas School.
After the Museum's application was filed, plaintiffs filed a response as parties to the proceeding before the Plan Commission and requested documents, answers to interrogatories and the right to cross-examine witnesses. In advance of the hearing, the Plan Commission denied the right to cross-examination.
As required by section 16--4--100(d) of the Ordinance, the Plan Commission conducted a public hearing on October 29, 1996, to allow members of the public an opportunity to express their opinions on the Museum's application. Notice of the hearing was published in the Chicago Sun Times and written notice was sent by certified mail to the owners of all property within 250 feet of the lot line of the Museum property prior to the hearing.
At the beginning of the hearing, plaintiffs' counsel repeated the request that all statements at the hearing be given under oath and that plaintiffs be permitted to cross-examine witnesses. Reuben L. Hedlund, chair of the Plan Commission, explained to plaintiffs' counsel that the rules and procedures of the Plan Commission did not provide for the swearing in of witnesses or cross-examination, but assured plaintiffs that the Plan Commission would afford them the opportunity to express their opinions on the Museum's application when it heard from members of the public at the end of the hearing.
At the hearing, plaintiffs submitted a 1984 Plan Commission report and resolution entered in an earlier proceeding in which the Museum applied for approval under the Ordinance for a structure to contain an Omnimax theater, an exhibit hall, a snack bar, a dining room, a museum store, a plaza for outdoor exhibits, and a 158-space parking lot. Except for the parking lot, the Museum had won approval in 1984 of its application on the condition that "there be no additional expansion of the Museum facilities." A resolution to that effect was adopted by the Commission in 1984.
Those who testified in favor of the Museum's plan included Joseph Zehnder (Zehnder) of the Department of Planning; James Kahn (Kahn), president of the Museum; Lawrence Okrent (Okrent) of Okrent Associates, a firm specializing in land development planning; Barbara Holt, fifth ward alderman; and two members of the public.Eight people made statements opposing Phase II at the hearing. Plaintiffs' objections at the hearing included use of park land for a museum, damage to the north lagoon of Jackson Park, the lack of the Museum's need for additional space, and a violation of the 1984 resolution. Throughout the hearing, various members of the Plan Commission actively questioned the witnesses. The hearing concluded with an oral motion to approve the Museum application, and the members of the Plan Commission voted unanimously to approve the Museum's application as being in compliance with the Ordinance.On January 13, 1997, plaintiffs filed a petition for a writ of certiorari in the Cook County circuit court for judicial review of the Plan Commission's decision to approve the Museum's application. Among the persons named as defendants in the petition were the Plan Commission, its members, Mayor Richard M. Daley, Alderman Barbara Holt (collectively, the City), the Museum and other individuals. The court found that plaintiffs had standing to sue, but granted the Museum's motion for summary judgment and denied plaintiffs' cross-motion for summary judgment.
Plaintiffs now appeal from the circuit court's order affirming the Plan Commission's decision to approve the Museum's application for Phase II. They make the following arguments on appeal: (1) the Plan Commission hearing was unfair because the Commission denied plaintiffs their due process rights, specifically, the opportunity to conduct a fair cross-examination of witnesses; (2) the Plan Commission's decision should be set aside because of the Commission's alleged failure to make a written determination with findings of fact within 30 days of the close of the hearing; (3) the Plan Commission is estopped from giving its approval for Phase II because of the condition contained in the 1984 resolution that no further encroachments would take place in Jackson Park; and (4) the Plan Commission's approval of the Museum's application was against the manifest weight of the evidence.
First, plaintiffs argue the Plan Commission hearing was unfair because the Commission denied plaintiffs their due process rights, specifically, the opportunity to conduct a fair cross-examination of witnesses. We conclude that the inability of plaintiffs to conduct cross-examination at the public ...