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O'Malley v. Village of Palos Park

February 23, 2004

[5] EILEEN A. O'MALLEY, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
THE VILLAGE OF PALOS PARK, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



[6] Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County 96 CH 11004 Hon. Peter A. Flynn, Judge Presiding.

[7] The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice McBRIDE

[8]  This is an appeal from a summary judgment order entered in favor of defendant-appellee, the Village of Palos Park (Village), and against plaintiff-appellant, Eileen O'Malley. In 1981, the Village and O'Malley entered into an annexation agreement where certain property in Palos Park, Illinois, commonly known as the Palos Park County Club (the Property) would be annexed into the Village. In 1994, the parties, by way of another contract (the 1994 agreement), extended the original annexation agreement to the year 2001, and O'Malley submitted a development concept plan to the Village for the purpose of developing the Property. The Board of Commissioners of the Village of Palos Park (Village Board) *fn1 approved the development plan "subject to confirmation that the [1994 agreement] was in order." The Village Board later rejected the development plan on the basis that the 1994 agreement was invalid because no notice and public hearing were held prior to its execution as required by section 11-15.1-3 of the Illinois Municipal Code. 65 ILCS 5/11-15.1-3 (West 2000).

[9]  O'Malley thereafter brought suit and her original complaint against the Village alleged causes of action for declaratory relief (count I), and theories of estoppel (count II), breach of contract (count III), and disconnection (count IV). She then filed an amended complaint which alleged a one-count claim for breach of contract (count I). On August 3, 2001, O'Malley filed a second amended complaint which alleged only that her "vested right" to approval of the development plan had been violated.

[10]   The Village filed an amended motion for summary judgment on O'Malley's second amended complaint. On May 15, 2002, the trial court granted that motion finding that the Village Board's vote to approve the development plan "subject to confirmation that the [1994 agreement] was in order," "was not such an approval as to create a vested right."

[11]   The following background facts are relevant to our disposition of the issues. On August 10, 1981, the Village and O'Malley entered into an annexation agreement (1981 agreement) which provided that the Property would be annexed into the Village. The 1981 agreement lasted for a term of 10 years, provided for R-1 residential zoning, and permitted plaintiff to apply for special development district classification zoning upon revision of the Village's zoning code. Several years later, the Village Board adopted a zoning ordinance (chapter 1273) to provide for a special development district classification known as the "S-1 Planned Unit Development" (S1-PUD) district on February 25, 1985. On May 13, 1985, the Village Board voted to rezone the Property as S-1 PUD.

[12]   The ordinance, chapter 1273.05(d), states, in relevant part:

[13]  
(3) Action by Plan Commission. Following the conclusion of the public hearing and its deliberations thereof, the commission shall submit its findings in a report to Council, *fn2 including a recommendation that the development concept plan be approved, approved subject to modification[,] or not approved.
[14]  
(1) Action by Council. Following receipt of the formal recognition of the Commission, Council shall:
[15]  
A. Refuse to approve the development concept plan;
[16]  
B. Refer it back to the commission for further consideration of specified matters; or
[17]  
C. By ordinance duly adopted, approve the development concept plan with or without modifications as a condition of such approval, grant a special use for the planned unit development, assign an S-1 zoning classification on the property and take such additional actions as may be necessary to permit the subject development.
[18]  
(5) Effect of Approval A development concept plan which has been approved shall not be modified, revoked or otherwise impaired, and the land use arrangement, intensity of use and other zoning and bulk standards established by the development concept plan shall remain intact and run with the land unless modified by further ordinance pursuant to the required public hearing process as outlined in this section." Village of Palos Park Planning and Zoning Code ch. 1273.05(d) (1985).

[19]   On June 27, 1994, the parties entered into the 1994 agreement, which extended the 1981 agreement to August 9, 2001. The 1994 agreement also contained an amendment that stated: "Paragraph 3(c) of the [1981 agreement] is amended by deleting 'eight dwelling units per acre' and inserting '7 dwelling units per acre.' " Another amendment was that "all other provisions of the [1981 agreement] *** shall remain the same."

[20]   Paragraph 8 of the 1981 agreement stated, in pertinent part, "[O'Malley] and subsequent owners shall comply and be subject to all ordinances, resolutions, rules and regulations of the VILLAGE, including every governmental body having jurisdiction thereof which now or hereafter may be in effect."

[21]   On June 26, 1997, O'Malley sought to move forward with her development plan. The minutes of the Village plan commission meeting on June 26, 1997, indicate that O'Malley thought all the Village development requirements had been satisfied based on the 1981 agreement. However, a Village official informed O'Malley that engineering standards had changed since the Property was annexed and that the documents provided by O'Malley would serve as a preapproval conference, but that she must submit documents in compliance with chapter 1273.

[22]   The Village plan commission posted a notice that a public hearing would be held on September 18, 1997, "to consider the proposals of the Palos Park County Club for their Concept Plan under the requirements of Village Code Ch. 1273.05(c), S-1 Planned Unit Development." The September 19, 1997, public hearing was continued until October 16, 1997. After the public hearing on October 16, 1997, the Village plan commission met. The minutes of the October 16, 1997, plan commission meeting indicate that the commission would consider approving O'Malley's development plan "contingent upon the submittal of five (5) items listed by the Village engineer." Ralph Jones III, of the Village plan commission, sent a letter to the Village Board dated October 24, 1997, stating the plan commission moved to approve O'Malley's development plan contingent upon the Village engineer's recognition that the five items had been submitted.

[23]   The Village Board met on November 10, 1997, to consider O'Malley's development plan. Peter Downey, an attorney for O'Malley, stated that "he was appearing before the [Village Board] to seek approval of the concept plan, which was the first stage of development, and would enable them to move forward to the next step of the proposed project." At one point during the meeting, a citizen voiced his concerns about the proposed development, including the fact that he was not notified of any public hearings for the extension of the 1981 agreement in 1994. The mayor stated that "he did not believe that a public hearing was necessary to extend an agreement." At the end of the meeting the Village Board approved the development plan, "subject to confirmation that the 1994 extension to the annexation agreement was in order."

[24]   On November 24, 1997, the Village Board met again and the mayor stated that an individual indicated at the November 10, 1997, meeting that no public notice had been given and that no public hearing had been held prior to the approval of the 1994 agreement. Because of this individual's concern, the mayor noted that the approval of the development plan was contingent upon all required public notices and hearings having been given and held relative to the 1994 agreement. He then said, based on a review of the Village records, "Village staff *** determined that there was no public notice published, and no public hearing held, in regard to" the 1994 Agreement. Thus, the Village attorney was directed to research the ramifications of this issue on the development review process with regard to O'Malley's development plan. Because approval of the development plan was contingent upon a public hearing having been held, the development plan was not formally approved and further action on the development plan was tabled until the meeting on January 26, 1998.

[25]   On January 26, 1998, the Village Board adopted a motion nullifying the 1994 agreement on the ground that it had been approved without a public hearing. The record shows that O'Malley was given the option of requesting a new public hearing for the purpose of evaluating the amendment to the 1981 agreement and putting the 1994 agreement back into place.

[26]   In lieu of requesting another public hearing, O'Malley filed a four-count complaint against the Village on August 2, 1999. As pointed out above, the original complaint sought a declaratory judgment (count I) and alleged theories of estoppel (count II), breach of contract (count III), and disconnection (count IV).

[27]   In subsequent court proceedings counts I, II, and IV of the original complaint were all dismissed. On January 9, 2001, O'Malley filed an amended complaint, which alleged only a breach of contract.

[28]   On March 12, 2001, a hearing on the Village's amended motion for judgment on the pleadings was held. The Village argued that the 1994 agreement was invalid under section 11-15.1-3 of the Illinois Municipal Code because no notice had been given and no public hearing had been held prior to its execution. The trial judge stated that he was inclined to agree that the 1994 agreement was invalid because no notice and no public ...


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