Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County. No. 99-CH-179. Honorable Bonnie M. Wheaton, Judge, Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice O'malley
This case again comes before us, this time on the appeal of defendants Meijer, Inc. and Meijer Stores Limited Partnership (collectively, Meijer), from the judgment of the circuit court of Du Page County granting in part the motion for summary judgment of plaintiffs, Robert J. Klaeren II, Frieda and Aizik Chernobrov, and Carle R. Wunderlich II. Plaintiffs also cross-appeal from the trial court's judgment denying them leave to file an amended complaint and a petition for attorney fees. We affirm.
The basic facts of this case are unchanged from the earlier appeals. See People ex rel. Klaeren v. Village of Lisle, 316 Ill. App. 3d 770 (2000) (Klaeren I); People ex rel. Klaeren v. Village of Lisle, 202 Ill. 2d 164 (2002) (Klaeren II). Accordingly, only a brief recapitulation of the salient facts is necessary to set the stage for our analysis; additional pertinent facts will be discussed as necessary in the body of our analysis.
The Project and the Public Hearing
Meijer, Inc. decided to build and open a new store in the Village of Lisle (village). To that end, it entered into a contract with the Saint Procopius Abbey (Abbey) to purchase a 60-acre parcel of land. Meijer, Inc. then entered into the village's zoning process, seeking to have the village pass the necessary ordinances regarding the annexation, rezoning, and special use needed to develop the parcel. Plaintiffs steadfastly opposed Meijer, Inc. throughout the process, concerned about the impact that the new Meijer store would have on their neighboring lands.
On July 9, 1998, the village held a public hearing regarding the Meijer, Inc. development, and this hearing was the focus of the earlier appeals. Pertinently, the village board of trustees (village board), the village plan commission (plan commission), and the village zoning board of appeals (zoning board) convened a joint hearing in a local junior high school auditorium. The joint hearing was heavily attended by village residents, who formed a standing-room-only crowd within the hot and too-small auditorium.
At the beginning of the joint hearing, the village mayor, Ronald Ghilardi, who also presided over the hearing, stated:
"This is a public hearing. It is not a debate. There will be no attempt at tonight's hearing to answer any question raised by this audience. Questions may be addressed during the review process ***.
To the extent possible the speaker will address questions and concerned [sic] raised by the combined boards this evening.
The petitioner will be first subject to any questions by the assembled boards. We will attempt to deal with each individual aspect of the presentation as it's made.
People in the audience speaking in favor of the proposal will then be heard. People in the audience speaking in opposition of the proposal will then be heard. The petitioner will then be allowed to make closing comments.
After closing comments by the petitioner, the public hearing will be adjourned.
Public records will remain open for written comments by interested parties. Any written comments must be received at the Village offices by 4:30 p.m. Friday, July 31st.
To be fair to everyone in the audience, I ask that you limit your comments to two minutes each. I will be the time keeper and will let you know when 15 seconds remain.
No one will be allowed to speak a second time until everyone has an opportunity to speak once. That requirement will also be applicable to members of the assembled boards."
The hearing proceeded under the rules set out by the mayor. A number of witnesses spoke on behalf of Meijer, Inc., including its architect, land planner, traffic consultant, and hydraulic engineer for the proposed project. During these witnesses' presentations, various members of the combined boards asked them questions.
After the Meijer, Inc. presentation was completed, the mayor invited those audience members in favor of the project to speak. Two people spoke in favor of the project and more than 40 people spoke in opposition to the project. One of the opponents questioned the procedures being used at the hearing, and the mayor explained that only a single representative would be permitted to speak on behalf of any group or organization and that the two-minute time limit would be enforced. Mayor Ghilardi continued:
"Rather than try and debate with you the procedure we are going to try and follow, I tried to explain at the beginning of the meeting. My instructions would give everyone who wants to speak or had a written comment an opportunity to be heard. I think that is fair.
No matter what we do it is going to be characterized as being unfair. That being the case, we are going to ...