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Hanna v. City of Chicago

May 14, 2002

ALBERT C. HANNA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
THE CITY OF CHICAGO, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 99 CH 8311 Honorable Lester D. Foreman, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice McBRIDE

UNPUBLISHED

Plaintiff, Albert C. Hanna (Hanna), filed a four-count first amended complaint against defendant, the City of Chicago (the City), seeking a declaratory judgment, and injunctive and other relief. The complaint involved the downzoning of Hanna's property located at 1742-50 North Mohawk Street in Chicago, which resulted from the city council's enactment of SD-19, Lincoln Central Special District (LCSD or Overlay District), an amendment to the City's zoning ordinance. Pursuant to section 2-619.1 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure (Civil Code) (735 ILCS 5/2-619.1 (West 1998)), the City moved for dismissal of Hanna's complaint. The trial court granted the City's motion and denied Hanna's motion to reconsider. Hanna appeals those orders, contending: (1) that the trial court erred in applying the rational basis test, rather than substantial relationship test, when ruling that the LCSD was not unconstitutional; (2) that his complaint properly pleaded the LCSD was unconstitutional as violative of the due process and equal protection rights as guaranteed by the Illinois Constitution (Illinois Const. 1970, Art. I,§2); and (3) that the trial court erred in dismissing his claim alleging the LCSD does not conform to the requirements necessary for the enactment of a special district amendment. For the reasons set forth below, we affirm in part and reverse in part the judgment of the trial court and remand this cause for further proceedings.

BACKGROUND

Hanna's property at 1742-50 North Mohawk Street is located in the Lincoln Central neighborhood of Chicago. In general, this area is bounded on the west by North Halsted Street, on the northeast by Lincoln Avenue, on the southeast by the former Ogden Avenue and on the south by West North Avenue. In 1971, Hanna built a five-story brick building on his Mohawk Street property, which covered four lots and contained 26 units. At the time, the property was zoned R-5 and the minimum lot area per dwelling unit was 400 square feet with a maximum floor area ratio of 2.2. The property was zoned R-5 until the LCSD took effect on December 22, 1998. According to Hanna's complaint, the LCSD was passed at the behest of various property owners in Lincoln Park, who had formed an association known as the Lincoln Central Association.

The LCSD is composed of two subareas, subarea A and subarea B, which are divided by Larrabee Street. Halsted Street bounds the LCSD on the west, while portions of Lincoln Avenue bounds it on the east. The northern end of the LCSD consists of various streets between Lincoln Avenue and Halsted Street, while its southern border "jots along in a haphazard manner." Prior to the LCSD, subarea A, in which Hanna's property is located, had been zoned R-5, which allowed multi family apartments. Subarea B had historically been zoned R-4, which meant, in general, only buildings of up to three stories were allowed. Hanna stated that the properties comprising subareas A and B were similar.

The preamble to the LCSD stated that it

"intended to conserve the existing low-density residential character of the Central Lincoln neighborhood. The existing pattern of development is single-family, two-family, and three-family dwellings within two and three-story structures. The District seeks to maintain the neighborhood's existing scale and density by limiting construction of taller and bulkier multi-story buildings. In addition, the District seeks to maintain the street- front orientation of existing homes by requiring this orientation for new construction."

The LCSD provided that new residential construction shall not exceed 42 feet in height, where prior to the LCSD, no height limitations existed in areas zoned R-4 or R-5. The minimum lot area was to be not less than 1,000 square feet in the Overlay District.

Regarding the effect the LSCD had on his property, Hanna alleged that it constituted a nonconforming use, in that in the event of destruction of the property, it could no longer be used as a multi family dwelling. Hanna claimed that because of the new height limitations, the change in the floor area ratio, which was decreased from 2.2 to 1.7, and the increase in the square foot dwelling from 400 to 1,000 square feet, he had been and would continue to be deprived of the highest and best use of his property.

Hanna claimed that prior to passage of the LSCD, lots zoned R-5 were worth in excess of $500,000 per lot and that his property, which consisted of four lots, was valued at approximately $2,300,000. He further claimed that lots adjacent to his, which were in subarea B, were worth about $400,000 per lot prior to the LSCD. In his complaint, Hanna noted the increase in the minimum lot area per dwelling unit and the decrease in the maximum floor area ratio in subarea A, and the concurrent increase in the maximum floor area in subarea B. Based upon these changes, Hanna alleged that the amount of land value transferred from R-5 unit owners in subarea A to R-4 unit owners in subarea B exceeded $300 million. *fn1 Personally, Hanna claimed that these changes had decreased the value of his property over $500,000.

Hanna stated that pursuant to section 11-13-8 of the Illinois Municipal Code (Municipal Code) (65 ILCS 5/11-13-8 (West 1998)), he had served notice of the declaratory judgment proceeding upon all property owners within 250 feet of his property.

In count I, Hanna alleged that when enacting the LCSD as a purported "Special District Amendment," the city council had violated section 17-20-330 of the Chicago Municipal Code (Chicago Municipal Code §17-20-330 (amended July 8, 1998)) because the city council committee on zoning had failed to give consideration to the required factors when reviewing the application for the LCSD. Hanna also listed each factor and alleged that the LCSD did not satisfy the factors. Included were Hanna's allegations that the boundaries of the LCSD were arbitrary and gerrymandered. He alleged that no unique land characteristics predominated throughout the LCSD in that the Overlay District contained a hodgepodge of multi family uses, consisting of one- , two- , and three-story homes and apartments, all of which had various ages, characteristics and architecture. He also claimed that the LCSD was surrounded by numerous commercial properties. In count I, Hanna further claimed that the City had failed to advertise the hearings regarding the LCSD as required by section 17-44-340 of the Chicago Municipal Code (Chicago Municipal Code §17-44-340 (2000)). He alleged further that he had invested substantial sums of money in the property and would be irreparably harmed if he were not allowed to enjoy the benefit of his property as zoned R-5. Hanna stated that he was without an adequate remedy at law.

In count II, Hanna claimed that creation of the Overlay District constituted "invidious spot zoning." He alleged that the ordinance in question deprived him of private property rights and privileges secured by the due process clause of article I, section 2, of the Illinois Constitution in that he had suffered a substantial reduction in the value and permissible use of his property. He alleged that the destruction of his property value did not promote the health, safety or general welfare of the public. Hanna's complaint stated that the LCSD had not been passed pursuant to a comprehensive zoning plan, but rather the provisions of the LCSD represented the desires of a few residents who sought to preserve and increase their own property values. Hanna alleged that any gain to the public resulting from the enactment of the LCSD was either minimal or nonexistent. He claimed the hardship imposed upon him was extreme, in that an uncompensated taking of his property had occurred based upon the lowering of his property value.

In count III, Hanna claimed that enactment of the LCSD violated his due process rights and was "classic arbitrary, irrational, discriminatory" downzoning, which ignored the general welfare of the City as a whole and benefitted a vocal minority of residents in the LCSD. He alleged that he and other property owners in the downzoned areas had been adversely impacted by, inter alia, the decreased housing supply, decreased population, decreased taxable income, decreased use of public transportation and reduced property values.

In count IV, Hanna claimed that the Overlay District deprived him of equal protection of the law as guaranteed by article I, section 2, of the Illinois Constitution. Hanna alleged that he and his property were being treated differently from other similarly situated persons and property in that the LCSD discriminated against him and others in subarea A in favor of landowners in subarea B. On information and belief, Hanna alleged that 40% of the property in subarea A was now nonconforming and, thus, he and other property owners in subarea A could not use their property for the "highest and best use."

After each count, in his prayer for relief, Hanna sought a declaration of the court that the LCSD be declared null and void. He also prayed that the City be enjoined from ...


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