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Offsite Parking Incites Opponents
by Ron Davis

A developer's plans to build a retail complex in a Chicago area zoned for manufacturing has suffered a major setback because of a lack of required parking space.

The land on which the complex is planned is owned by GDH Investments, L.L.C., which anticipated that based on the small size of the property, there would not be sufficient parking space to satisfy Chicago's zoning laws for such a development. As a result, GDH negotiated a deal with the owner of an adjacent parking lot to use 34 spaces there for customers and employees of the complex's tenants.

That seemed acceptable to the Chicago Zoning Board of Appeals, which approved the plans of GDH. The Zoning Board then granted a special-use permit to allow the construction of the complex in the manufacturing zone in which it was located.

Opponents of the complex appealed the Zoning Board's decision, however. They argued that the local zoning laws required not only a certain number of parking spaces for such a development, but also that those spaces be held either through a deed or a long-term lease.

Apparently, the parking spaces assigned to the developer were simply "made available" to the owners of the complex through a license agreement. And that agreement was not definite as to which 34 spaces were reserved for use by tenants and customers of the complex. Instead, it merely entitled certain persons affiliated with the complex to use 34 spaces, subject to the rules and regulations of the owner of the parking lot.

The Zoning Board decided, however, that even if the agreement with the parking lot owner does not satisfy the requirements of the zoning laws, GDH still has a right to build the complex.

An Illinois appellate court disagreed with the Zoning Board, explaining, "The Zoning Board's decision granting GDH's special-use applications is based on an erroneous construction of the zoning laws; namely, that a license agreement for off-site parking facilities satisfies the requirements. Since, as a matter of law, the parking agreement does not vest GDH, either by deed or lease, with the requisite possession of the parking spaces, GDH failed to satisfy the parking requirements of the manufacturing zone within which the property is located. The Zoning Board's finding to the contrary is, therefore, against the manifest weight of the evidence." (North Ave. Prop. v. Zoning Bd. of Appeals, 726 N.E.2d 65 [Ill.App. 1 Dist. 2000])

Decision: March 2000
Published: May 2000



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