Lawsuit against 5150 N. Northwest Hwy dismissed
by BRIAN NADIG
A Cook County Circuit Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit which challenged a settlement agreement between the City of Chicago and the owner of a parcel at 5150 N. Northwest Hwy., where a five-story storage warehouse and a seven-story, mixed-income housing complex are planned.
Area property owners filed the lawsuit last year claiming that their due process was violated because the settlement agreement required Alderman John Arena (45th) and city zoning administrator Patricia Scudiero to support a planned development ordinance for the project before public notification of the zoning request occurred and before the public review process of the proposal began.
City officials have said that public input would be taken into account for the project during public hearings on the proposed planned development ordinance and that the settlement agreement did not require the City Council, which would make the final decision, to support the ordinance.
However, the council almost always defers decisions on zoning proposals to the local alderman, and some project opponents have argued that it was unfair to require Arena’s support before the community was notified of any development plans for the site.
Judge David Atkins agreed with the city’s assessment and dismissed the lawsuit “with prejudice,” meaning that the court’s decision is final and a similar lawsuit based on the same grounds cannot be filed but the plaintiffs can appeal Atkins’ decision.
Arena’s chief of staff Owen Brugh said that the lawsuit was “frivolous” and that it is not a surprise that the judge dismissed it. “This is what we expected since the lawsuit was filed,” he said.
Northwest Side Unite, which raised about $40,000 to help fund the lawsuit, has not announced if it will seek an appeal.
“Northwest Side Unite remains committed to speaking up for the community against these behind closed door projects. We have yet to see the (recently revised development plan for the site) and how they seek to address our concerns and will continue to review all legal remedies available,” the group said in a statement.
The group has argued that the project would be too tall and dense and that the height should be restricted to four stories, as recommended in the Gladstone Park commercial corridor study. The proposal called for 100 apartments last year but has been reduced to 75 in an effort to help secure financing for the project.
The height of the apartment building would remain seven stories despite the reduction in units. The development has sparked a storm of controversy on social media about the need for affordable and low-income housing in the area.
The settlement agreement stemmed from a 2016 lawsuit in which the property owner, LSC Development, claimed that its property rights had been violated when the city downzoned the site to stop an initial plan to build only a storage facility there. LSC was issued a construction permit for the project, but the city later rescinded it.
The settlement agreement called a storage facility to be constructed on the northern half of the parcel and an unspecified multi-family development on the southern half. LSC plans to sell the southern half to Full Circle Communities.