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Benjamin B. Lecompte, Cathleen B. Lecompte, and North Star Trust Company, As Successor v. Zoning Board of Appeals For the Village of Barrington Hills

September 21, 2011

BENJAMIN B. LECOMPTE, CATHLEEN B. LECOMPTE, AND NORTH STAR TRUST COMPANY, AS SUCCESSOR
HARRIS BANK BARRINGTON N.A., AS TRUSTEE UNDER NUMBER 11-5176, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS FOR THE VILLAGE OF BARRINGTON HILLS; JONATHAN J. KNIGHT, CHAIRMAN; JUDITH FREEMAN, BYRON JOHNSON, NANCY MASTERSON, GEORGE MULLEN, KAREN ROSENE AND MARK ROSSI AS MEMBERS OF THE ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS,
DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Trustee of Cook County Trust 09 CH 00934 Honorable Nancy J. Arnold, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Neville

JUSTICE NEVILLE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice Quinn and Justice Murphy concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

¶ 1 Plaintiffs, Dr. Benjamin LeCompte, Cathleen LeCompte (LeComptes), and the North Star Trust Company as successor trustee of Harris Bank Barrington N.A. and as trustee under trust number 11-5176, filed a complaint for administrative review of a final decision by the Zoning Board of Appeals (Zoning Board) for the Village of Barrington Hills (Village). The Zoning Board upheld a Village order directing the LeComptes to stop using their property for the commercial boarding of horses because it was not a permitted agricultural use in an R-1 zoned district. The circuit court affirmed the Zoning Board's decision. We find that the commercial boarding of horses is not a permitted use of property in a R-1 zoned district because it is not agriculture as that term is defined in section 5-2-1 of The Village of Barrington Hills' Zoning Ordinance (Zoning Code). Therefore, we affirm the order of the circuit court.

¶ 2 BACKGROUND

¶ 3 The LeComptes are the beneficial owners of approximately 130 acres of property located at 350 Bateman Road, in the Village of Barrington Hills, Illinois. The property was organized in December of 2003, as Oakwood Farm of Barrington Hills, L.L.C. (Oakwood Farm) for the purpose of operating a horse farm. There are approximately 45 horses boarded at Oakwood Farm and 35 are owned by third parties who signed an "Equine Training and Breeding Agreement." The other 10 horses are owned by the LeComptes and 2 of those horses are involved in breeding. The property consists of a single-family residence where the LeComptes reside with a stable and a riding arena, which is approximately 30,000 square feet, and there are 60 stalls for the horses and other buildings. In addition to boarding horses, the LeComptes also grow, cut and bale their own hay; raise, train and sell horses; provide pasturage; and provide veterinary services for the horses.

¶ 4 The Village has been predominantly a residential community, with approximately 72.3% of its land dedicated to residential and agricultural property more than five acres in size, 24.6% of its land is forest preserves, 2.1% is residential property less than five acres in size, 0.7% is institutional, and 0.4% is business and industrial. Many of the residential properties are involved in equestrian activities and these activities remain an important part of the Village's character.

¶ 5 Oakwood Farm is located in a residential district of the Village zoned R-1. The preamble to section 5-5-2 of the Village's Zoning Code provides (1) that agriculture is a permitted use for land located in an R-1 zoned district; (2) that other than accessory uses - uses incidental to and on the same or an adjacent zoning lot or lots under one ownership - only one of the enumerated permitted uses may be established on a zoning property; and (3) that no building or zoning lot shall be devoted to any use other than a use permitted in the zoning district. Village of Barrington Hills Zoning Ordinance § 5-5-2 (Feb. 27, 2006).

¶ 6 Section 5-2-1 of the Zoning Code defines "agriculture" as "[t]he use of land for agricultural purposes, including farming, dairying, pasturage, apiculture, horticulture, floriculture, viticulture and animal and poultry husbandry (including the breeding and raising of horses as an occupation)." Village of Barrington Hills Zoning Ordinance § 5-2-1 (added Dec. 18, 1972). Section 5-2-1 also defines "animal husbandry" as "[t]he breeding and raising of livestock, such as horses, cows and sheep." Village of Barrington Hills Zoning Ordinance § 5-2-1 (added June 27, 2005).

¶ 7 On January 10, 2008, the Village's attorney delivered a cease and desist letter to the LeComptes which stated that the LeComptes' property, Oakwood Farm, was being used as a commercial horse boarding facility in violation of the Zoning Code and ordered the LeComptes to immediately cease and desist using the property for the nonpermitted use.

¶ 8 The LeComptes filed an appeal with the Zoning Board. The Zoning Board conducted a hearing on August 13 and 28, 2008, which was attended by the parties to this appeal, the attorneys for the LeComptes and the Village, and members of the community. The issue before the Zoning Board was whether the commercial boarding of horses is agriculture, a permitted use of property in an R-1 zoned district under section 5-5-2(A) of the Zoning Code.

¶ 9 During the hearing, the LeComptes admitted that they were using their property for the commercial boarding of horses. Dr. LeCompte argued that the commercial boarding of horses is agriculture as defined by section 5-2-1 of the Zoning Code. He also argued that since the commercial boarding of horses is a permitted agricultural use, according to section 5-3-4(A) of the Zoning Code, the Zoning Board was without authority to regulate the use of his property.

¶ 10 The attorney for the Village, Doug Wambach, argued that the commercial boarding of horses is not a permitted use in an R-1 zoned district. He also argued that, according to the definition of agriculture in section 5-2-1 of the Zoning Code, only the breeding and raising of horses is a permitted use in an R-1 zoned district and horse boarding is not. He further argued that the drafters of the Zoning Code intended that the permitted uses in an R-1 zoned district would be compatible with each other and that Oakwood Farm's commercial boarding facility was not compatible with the other single-family residences in the R-1 zoned district.

¶ 11 At the conclusion of the hearing, the Zoning Board made the following findings: (1) that the LeComptes are operating a commercial boarding facility in an R-1 zoned district; (2) that the commercial boarding of horses is not a permitted agricultural use in an R-1 zoned district; and (3) that because the commercial boarding of horses is not a permitted agricultural use, section 5-3-4(A) does not apply. Finally, the Zoning Board denied the LeComptes' petition to overturn the Village's order to cease and desist using Oakwood Farm for the commercial boarding of horses.

¶ 12 The LeComptes filed a complaint for administrative review in the circuit court and requested that the Zoning Board's decision be reversed. The circuit court affirmed the Zoning Board's decision and the LeComptes appealed to the appellate court.

ΒΆ 13 After the LeComptes filed their reply brief in the appellate court, the Zoning Board filed a motion to strike the reply brief and argued that it contained arguments that were not presented in the administrative proceedings in the circuit court or in its initial ...


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