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2004-11-21
Lisle, IL. Residents Beat Meijer's Store--And It Only Took Six Years

Residents in the village of Lisle, Illinois probably never thought they'd see the end of the Meijer's proposal to build a 215,000 s.f. superstore. But this week, they realized instead that they won't see the beginning of it. According to the Suburban Chicago News, the six year struggle to keep a retailer out of their hair is now over. About a month ago, an Appellate Court in Illinois ruled in favor of a lower court ruling in DuPage County that the public hearing process used by the Village Board was invalid. The Appellate Court ruling came on October 12th, and Meijer had one month to file an appeal, which it failed to do. "Meijer cannot take any further legal action," said an attorney for Citizens for Responsible and Appropriate Development in Lisle (CRADL), the citizen's group. "But Meijer still owns the property." The case goes back to 1998, when Meijer's filed plans for the store on roughly 61 acres of land. Residents from Lisle and neighboring Naperville began a long and winding campaign to keep the superstore out of the village. CRADL charged that the proposal hurt the surrounding neighborhoods by attracting more traffic and noise. They objected to the scale of the project, especially located next to a predominately residential area. However, the Lisle Village Board approved the Meijer in 1999, which triggered a citizen's lawsuit. The repercussions of the Board's vote also carried over to the next election, when the Mayor and several of his Trustees were ousted by the voters of Lisle. The case wound its way through the Illinois court system, from the county Circuit Court, to the state's Supreme Court, which ruled in 1999 that construction on the store must stop. The Supreme Court ruled three years later that the village's public hearing process should have allowed people interested in cross-examining witnesses to have the right to do so. In 2003, the Circuit Court ruled that every action taken by the Village Board, even the annexation of land and subsequent rezoning to make the deal possible -- was invalid. Not only did CRADL win a major victory over a regional chain store, but they scored a significant win for citizens all across Illinois who will have to testify at public zoning hearings. The village has now changed its hearing process. "They give everybody as much time as they want to speak," one CRADL member noted. "It's fair to the residents of any town or village, but it does take a little bit more work on the part of the (town's) village board and mayor." The cost to CRADL of pursuing their rights was $200,000 in legal bills. Over the years, CRADL has held many raffles and fund raisers to retire their debt. If Meijer tries to come back and develop the land, CRADL says it is ready to take them on again. "The bottom line is, they own the land now," one CRADL member warned. "I won't celebrate until the land is not in their name."

What you can do: It ain't over until the fat company sings. But thanks to CRADL, the fat company is going to sing from the community's songbook. If you would like to help CRADL retire their legal debt, contact info@sprawl-busters.com for local contacts.










 
 
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