[ApaIllinois] APA-IL Legislative E-blast: Senate Bill 2647, Amends the School Code to Reaffirm Local Zoning Authority

Paula Freeze, APA-IL Editor editor at ilapa.org
Tue Mar 18 16:30:48 CDT 2014

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T.J. Blakeman, AICP

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John H. Paige, AICP
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Editor & Webmaster 
Paula Freeze
editor at ilapa.org


Making Great 
Communities Happen
in Illinois

March 18, 2014

Legislative Committee
American Planning Association - Illinois Chapter

 Senate Bill 2647, Amends the School Code
to Reaffirm Local Zoning Authority 

Sponsor: Senator Pamela Althoff (R–32nd Dist., McHenry County  &  Lake County) 

Summary: SB 2647 would amend the School Code to clarify that school  district property is subject local zoning authority. The School Code does  not expressly subject school district property to local zoning control, but  impliedly does so by authorizing school boards to petition local zoning  authorities for approval of rezoning, variance and special use requests.  This ambiguity has created confusion regarding the extent of municipal  zoning authority over school district property, and was the basis for a  recent lawsuit involving Crystal Lake South High School and new football  bleachers that exceeded the height limit in the village’s zoning code. 

Status: The bill was introduced in the Senate in late January and been  presented for several readings. School district representatives are  currently providing feedback and have identified three primary concerns: 
	* construction delays caused by the local zoning process; 
	* review costs associated with the local zoning process; and 
	* multiple agencies reviewing district proposals for zoning compliance. Analysis: In its current form, SB 2647 is a simple, elegant and effective  measure that reaffirms municipal zoning authority over school district  property. SB 2647 doesn’t change the current law; rather, it clarifies the  rights local zoning authorities already possess. School districts have long  been required to comply with local zoning ordinances. Nevertheless, the bill  serves a valuable purpose by eliminating the need for costly litigation –  like that involving Crystal Lake – and fostering constructive partnerships  between school districts and municipalities.

The school districts’ concerns should not be addressed by modifying the 
    language of SB 2647. Establishing an arbitrary time limit on public zoning 
    deliberations raises obvious due process concerns and may promote 
    gamesmanship by districts interested in stifling public dissent. Similarly, 
    waiving application fees designed to reimburse cities for the time and 
    resources their staff dedicate to evaluating proposals for zoning compliance 
    needlessly usurps municipal discretion and turns a cost-neutral service into 
    an unfunded municipal liability. Finally, districts’ concerns regarding 
    duplicative review processes appear to be a red herring. Local zoning 
    authority is not shared by other agencies; therefore, there is no need for 
    districts to be concerned about multiple agencies reviewing applications for 
    zoning compliance. 

Recommendation: Contact your state legislators to Support SB 2647 as  originally drafted. 

4850-8171-8041, v. 2                   
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