New Law Affects Municipal Zoning and School Districts

Author: Kevin A. Chrzanowski
September 27, 2016

Recently, the Illinois General Assembly’s response to Gurba v. Community High School District No. 155 was passed as Public Act 099-0890. This law became effective immediately upon the signature of the Governor. Under the new law, a school district and its board are subject to any valid local government zoning ordinance or resolution that applies where the building, structure, or site is located. The goal of the new law is to both streamline and to reduce the financial and administrative burdens of the application process.

The law provides several actions that a municipality can take to streamline and reduce the financial and administrative burden on a school district. First, a municipality should reduce the application fees associated with a school district application to a point where they reflect the actual cost associated with reviewing and processing the application. Second, the municipality should limit the number of times that the school district must amend its site plans and reduce the number of copies that must be submitted in order to process the application. The law does, however, make it clear that a municipality is not limited to taking only these actions in order to achieve the mandate of the law. Lastly, the municipality must expedite the zoning review process in order to render a decision within 90 days from the date that a completed application is submitted.

As one can see, while the law imposes requirements on municipalities, the actions that a municipality must take in order to comply with these requirements are largely undefined. As a result, it is important that a municipality take a proactive approach to the new law and consult with their legal counsel to ensure that they develop an appropriate procedure to process school district zoning applications in compliance with the requirements of the new law.