Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division
from the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. No. 18 CH
1605 Honorable Thomas R. Allen, Judge Presiding.
Attorneys for Appellant: Sanford M. Stein and Lawrence W.
Falbe, of Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, PLC, of
Chicago, for appellant.
Attorneys for Appellee: Kwame Raoul, Attorney General, of
Chicago (Jane Elinor Notz, Solicitor General, and Caleb Rush,
Assistant Attorney General, of counsel), for appellees.
JUSTICE COGHLAN delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Presiding Justice Fitzgerald Smith and Justice Lavin
concurred in the judgment and opinion.
1 In 2016, plaintiff Shout Outdoor Media, LLC (Shout),
applied to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT)
for a permit to place a billboard at 770 North Milwaukee
Avenue in Chicago. IDOT denied the application, citing the
presence of another billboard within 500 feet at 1135 West
Chicago Avenue. Under the Highway Advertising Control Act of
1971 (Act), "no two sign structures on the same side of
the highway shall be erected less than 500 feet apart."
225 ILCS 440/6.03(b) (West 2016).
2 Shout filed a complaint in the circuit court for a writ of
certiorari to review IDOT's final administrative
decision. The circuit court affirmed the denial of the
permit. Shout appeals, arguing that the Chicago Avenue sign
is "an illegal sign under the Act" and, therefore,
should not count for purposes of the 500-foot spacing
requirement. For the reasons that follow, we affirm
IDOT's decision to deny Shout's permit application.
4 In February 1996, David Gervercer entered into a lease with
Universal Sign Company to erect and maintain a billboard on
Gervercer's property at 770 North Milwaukee Avenue. On
November 13, 1996, IDOT issued Universal Sign Company a
permit for the billboard (the old Milwaukee sign), visible to
southbound traffic on I-90 and I-94.
5 On January 11, 2002, IDOT issued a permit for a billboard
at 1135 West Chicago Avenue, also visible to southbound
traffic on I-90 and I-94. The parties agree that issuance of
this permit was improper because the Chicago Avenue sign was
within 500 feet of the old Milwaukee sign.
6 In 2012, Gervercer terminated his lease with Universal Sign
Company, and Universal Sign Company removed the old Milwaukee
sign. Gervercer then entered into a new lease with Shout.
7 On December 16, 2016, Shout applied for a permit to place a
sign in the exact location formerly occupied by the old
Milwaukee sign. Following a conference between the parties,
on August 1, 2017, IDOT sent Shout a notice that it intended
to deny the application for two reasons: (1) Shout's
proposed sign was within 500 feet of the Chicago Avenue sign,
and (2) Shout's site drawing did not include the
distances from the proposed sign to rights-of-way at both the
interstate highway and North Ogden Avenue.
8 On August 29, 2017, Shout sent a timely response to IDOT,
arguing that, because the Chicago Avenue sign was improperly
permitted, it could not serve as the basis for denying
Shout's permit application. Accordingly, Shout requested
that IDOT require the Chicago Avenue sign to be removed and
then issue a permit to Shout for the Milwaukee site. With
regard to the alleged deficiencies in Shout's site
drawing, Shout requested leave to fix those issues after
resolving the spacing issue.
9 On January 2, 2018, IDOT issued a final denial of
Shout's permit application, citing the same two reasons
from its earlier letter. With regard to the spacing issue,
IDOT stated: "After thorough review and examination, the
Department determined that it is required to consider [the