Zoning Board of Appeals Hearing Live-Blog

SurveyTonight: Live blogging from the Zoning Board of Appeals hearing on alleged Planned Parenthood zoning and permitting violations. 6:45 p.m. The public are beginning to arrive, forty or fifty pro-lifers so far, all wearing red carnations on their lapels in sign of pro-life solidarity. The members of the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) are taking their seats too on the dias. Attorney Chris Wilson, representing Planned Parentood, is seated at the “Applicant” table just in front of my seat at the right end of the first row. 6:50 p.m. Our attorneys, Peter Breen and Tom Brejcha, have just sat down at the Appelant table. Between them is a table for the City’s attorneys, as yet unoccupied. Now Alayne Weingartz takes her seat at the City table. 6:55 p.m. Zoning administrator Ed Sieben, whose professional opinion as the chief zoning officia on these matters has yet to be heard, has just introduced himself to the attorneys. Meanwhile, I have moved down to the left side of the first row, closer to our champions Brejcha and Breen. Beside me sit Vince Tessitori, local zoning attorney, and Rich Baker, one of the attorneys working with us on the case. Carnations7:00 p.m. The meeting should commence any moment. Up on the dias, to the left, are attorneys Steve Anderson and Peter Wilson (no relation to Chris Wilson), who represent the ZBA. And then in the center where the Mayor usually sits, is ZBA chairman Margaret Truax and, moving right, ZBA Commissioners Linda Cole, Bill Bergeron, Kenneth Karrels, Don Pilmer, Ken Jones and Kenneth Cameron. 7:05 p.m. Seems like there’s some kind of problem with the microphones that they’re working out. 7:10 p.m. The microphone problem seems to have been worked out. Margaret Truax has just brought to meeting to order and the role has been called. The attorneys are instroducing themselves. It appears there is a problem with Brejcha and Breen’s mic, as well as Weingartz’s. 7:15 p.m. The mics are working again. Now Truax introduces the ZBA’s attorneys, and hands it over to Pete Wilson to give some background information and procedural instructions. Wilson explains that he and his associate are there to maintain an orderly meeting, act as parliamentarians on matters of procedure and such if needed. Now he’s describing what a ZBA is under Illinois law: a quasi-judicial board whose decisions on zoning and applications matters may be appealed to a state court. Wilson explains some of the rules under which this matter will be discussed by the ZBA, the enumerating of which I will spare my readers. But it doesn’t sound as if this hearing will be as dramatic as an episode of Law and Order. ZBA7:20 p.m. Wilson continues. It appears that the ZBA will today provide a timeline for Appelants (that’s us) to respond to the City’s motion to dismiss, a matter which must be decided before moving forward with the hearing. The Appelants need to respond to the City’s motion to dismiss the appeal as untimely and outside the jurisdiction of the ZBA, and the City and Applicant need to reply. Wilson is suggesting a single date to handle both of these matters (untimeliness and jurisdiction). 7:25 p.m. Tom Brejcha addresses the board to say that they are responding to both the jurisdictional and timeliness issues. Wilson had suggested their concern was solely timeliness. 7:30 p.m. Brejcha notes that documents have not been provided to them and they could have offered a response to the Motion to Dismiss in time for this hearing otherwise. Now the attorneys are talking about how much time they need for this response and reply business. Weingartz says she wants a week, which Chris Wilson says is sooner than he thought, but they wouldn’t need to repond anyway, so a week is fine. Brejcha says that two days would be enough for them (apparently two days from the week that Weingartz wants). 7:35 p.m. The key question here seems to be establishing a complete record of all the documents involved in this appeal. I don’t know what documents the City has failed to provide. The board agrees to meet again on Wednesday, December 12 to determine if there are additional documents needed or if the record is complete, and then set a timeline for making a decision on the Motion to Dismiss. 7:40 p.m. Now they’re talking about a date for a meeting in January to address the Motion to Dismiss. They’ve chosen January 7. It’s clear that what is happening here is that Alayne Weingartz is scheming to delay this process as long as possible, requiring a week for what need only take a day or two, and, in the first place failing to provide our attorneys all the documents necessary for them to have made a response to the Motion to Dismiss. This is exactly the strategy you’d expect from a municipality with something to hide. 7:45 p.m. The meeting has just adjourned until December 12 at 7:00 p.m. I will talk to the attorneys a bit and see if I can’t “nutshell” some of the legal issues here for you shortly. 8:10 p.m. I’ve had the chance to chat with our attorneys, and they’re pleased that the ZBA appears to be taking this matter quite seriously. It seems Weingartz is keen to keep the Leutkehans report out of these proceedings; that’s part of the disagreement over documents. Weingartz maintains that the City has not made any zoning determination since July, and therefore our appeal is untimely (it must be made within 60 days of a zoning determination). But the on the basis of the Leutkehans report, the City imposed conditions on the kinds of abortions Planned Parenthood can do. That’s a zoning determination, we say. So the process has begun. We’ll be back on December 12 for the next hearing on this matter.

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