Ad-Ex, Inc. v. City of Chicago, AD-E

Decision Date19 September 1990
Docket NumberINC,AD-E,1-89-3036,Nos. 1-89-1657,1-89-2737,1-89-3290 and 1-90-0348,s. 1-89-1657
Citation207 Ill.App.3d 163,565 N.E.2d 669
Parties, 152 Ill.Dec. 136 , Plaintiff-Appellee, Cross-Appellant, v. CITY OF CHICAGO, a municipal corporation, Defendant-Appellant, Cross-Appellee.
CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois

Kelly R. Welsh, Corp. Counsel of the City of Chicago, Chicago (Ruth M. Moscovitch & Jean Dobrer, of counsel), for defendant-appellant, cross-appellee.

Robert W. Fioretti of Fioretti & Des Jardins, Ltd., and Paul G. Simon and Jenner & Block, Chicago (Thomas P. Sullivan and

William A. Von Hoene, Jr., of counsel), for plaintiff-appellee, cross-appellant.

Justice FREEMAN delivered the opinion of the court:

Defendant, City of Chicago, brought this action to reverse certain orders of the circuit court and to declare a settlement agreement void and unenforceable.

In 1986, plaintiff, Ad-Ex, Inc., filed 34 lawsuits, one for each of its proposed advertising signs, against the City. The lawsuits challenged the constitutionality of the City's sign ordinance. The ordinance requires a 500 foot setback from expressways. (Chicago Municipal Code ch. 194A, § 8.9(5) (1988).) In February 1989 the City and Ad-Ex entered into a settlement agreement which purported to vary the setback requirement. The variance was agreed upon without first giving notice and holding a public hearing as is required by ordinance. (Chicago Municipal Code ch. 194A, § 11.7-2 (1988).) The circuit court entered an agreed order dismissing the lawsuits, with prejudice. The settlement agreement was incorporated in the order.

Essentially, the settlement agreement provided that the City would vary the setback requirement and issue sign permits for the erection of 21 signs, as they had been defined in the lawsuits, and for 7 additional signs, for which the parties had negotiated. Pursuant to the agreement, permits would be issued for the erection of the signs provided that "the issuance of such permits [would] comply with all applicable laws of the City of Chicago * * * and all Federal and State laws * * *." Additionally, Ad-Ex was prohibited from erecting any other signs which would not be in compliance with the City's sign ordinance.

In March and April 1989, Ad-Ex applied for permits for 16 of the 28 sign locations. In May, the applications were rejected for failure to comply with the 500 foot setback requirement. Subsequently, Ad-Ex filed a motion to compel issuance of the permits. The City opposed the motion on the grounds that Ad-Ex had not complied with all applicable laws, viz., obtaining prior approval from the City Council.

According to the City, Ad-Ex had submitted City Council orders from 1987 with its permit applications. The sign heights listed in the Council orders were inconsistent with the sign heights listed in the permit application. The Council orders which Ad-Ex submitted also required compliance with all provisions of the zoning ordinance, including those which the settlement agreement waived.

On June 14, in response to Ad-Ex's motion, the court ordered the City to issue permits on 16 pending applications by June 23, 1989. On June 23, the City filed an emergency motion to stay the court's June 14 order. The motion was denied. The City then filed, in this court, an emergency notice of appeal and an emergency motion for a stay pending appeal. The motion was denied. The City issued no permits.

On July 11, 1989, the City learned that Ad-Ex had constructed a sign at 5000 W. Flournoy. The sign's face area exceeded 2400 square feet, and there had been no permit issued for its construction. The City then commenced administrative proceedings ("F-5" proceedings) against Ad-Ex to compel its compliance with the City's sign ordinance regarding permits (Chicago Municipal Code § 14-40-090 (1990)) 1, and its conformance with the settlement agreement. Ad-Ex did not appear for the July 26 administrative hearing, despite the fact that it had been given notice. Counsel for the City wrote to counsel for Ad-Ex, advising that Ad-Ex would have to remove the sign or modify it to reduce the sign face area to 1200 square feet, in compliance with the terms of the settlement agreement. Counsel for Ad-Ex responded that the sign was in conformance with the agreement. The City suspended Ad-Ex's permit privileges and declined to issue any permits.

Ad-Ex filed an emergency petition on July 13, 1989 for rule to show cause. At the July 31 hearing on the petition, the City agreed to continue processing the other permit applications while prosecuting the Flournoy violation.

On August 17, 1989, Ad-Ex filed an emergency motion to stay the administrative proceedings and permit the processing of permits. The trial court denied the motion to stay the proceedings but ordered the City to process Ad-Ex's permit applications independently of the issues involved in the administrative proceedings on the Flournoy sign. No permits were issued.

On September 25, 1989, Ad-Ex filed a second motion to stay administrative proceedings, and compel the processing and issuing of approved permits. On September 27, in response to the motion, the City argued that the August court order provided that the City would continue to process the permit applications during the pendency of the F-5, not that it would issue any permits. The City argued that to issue permits while there was an existing violation would effectively waive the City's penalty provisions.

On October 4, 1989 an evidentiary hearing on the September motion was held. Timothy Cullerton, Chief Electrical Inspector for the Department of Inspectional Services, testified that a City ordinance mandates the suspension of a contractor's sign permit privileges if the contractor erects a sign without a permit. According to Cullerton, the usual practice during an F-5 is to return pending permit applications without reviewing them until the F-5 is resolved. However, in compliance with the court's prior orders, the City did not return any of Ad-Ex's pending applications, but rather, continued to review them.

Chester Figlerlowicz, an electrical inspector for the City, testified that the Flournoy sign was double-faced and flag mounted. According to the City, although Ad-Ex submitted several applications for a sign at Flournoy, none of them were consistent with the 2400 square foot, double-faced, flag-mounted sign that Ad-Ex actually erected there. The court directed the City to issue, unimpeded by the F-5 proceeding, any pending permits approved for other sign locations.

Also at the October hearing, the City filed a motion to set aside the settlement agreement, claiming that Ad-Ex had materially breached it and that it was void as against public policy.

At a subsequent hearing on the motion, the City argued that the agreement was void because it purported to waive enforcement of a mandatory zoning ordinance, without notice or a public hearing. Regarding the alleged breach, the City presented testimony that the Flournoy sign was leaning and out of plumb. The City states in its brief that at an earlier hearing there was testimony that the sign was not in conformance with the terms of the agreement. Thomas Walsh, an executive with Ad-Ex's parent company, Universal, testified that Ad-Ex had expended funds, and made commitments to clients in reliance on the settlement agreement.

The court, in denying the City's motion, stated that the City had acted repeatedly, since the February settlement, in a way which would indicate, both by its remarks and its conduct, that they were ratifying the actions of the corporation counsel in entering into the settlement. The court also noted that the City Council had passed no resolution disavowing the settlement. 2 The court stated that it was persuaded to deny the city's motion to set aside the agreement because of the apparent reliance and expenditure incurred by Ad-Ex.

On November 2, 1989, the court again entered an order directing the City to issue the permits upon Ad-Ex's compliance with all applicable laws. On November 15, 1989, the court held a hearing on Ad-Ex's second petition for rule to show cause. The City argued that it had not issued the pending permits because Ad-Ex's bond had been revoked and because the drawings submitted with its applications showed double-faced, rather than single-faced signs. The court held that the bond, based on Ad-Ex's Flournoy sign, should not be used to block the issuance of permits at other sites. The court then ordered the City to issue three permits, on the condition that they were in compliance with the terms in the settlement agreement and all other applicable laws.

On November 28 Ad-Ex filed a motion to have permits issued for structures with two sign capability. The court denied Ad-Ex's motion to issue double sign permits, finding that the settlement agreement contemplated one sign structures only.

The City appeals from the court's several orders, and these appeals have been consolidated. The City urges two contentions on appeal: (1) the settlement agreement cannot be enforced; and, (2) the trial court erred by directing it not to enforce a mandatory penalty set by ordinance.

Ad-Ex cross appeals contending that section 506.01 of the chapter on roads and bridges (Ill.Rev.Stat.1987, ch. 121, par. 506.01) must have been contemplated by the parties in the settlement agreement and, therefore, the word definitions therein must be implied in its interpretation. Thus, it argues, based on the statute more than one sign face per location should be permitted and that the trial court erred in finding otherwise.

Since we find the City's first argument dispositive, we need not reach the other issues raised in this appeal.

The City first contends that the settlement agreement cannot be enforced. It argues that the agreement is void and unenforceable because it violates a...

To continue reading

Request your trial
33 cases
  • Morgan Place of Chi. v. City of Chi., Corp.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • 29 d5 Junho d5 2012
    ...procedure is not valid and would infringe on the legal rights of other property owners in the PMD. See Ad–Ex, Inc. v. City of Chicago, 207 Ill.App.3d 163, 175, 152 Ill.Dec. 136, 565 N.E.2d 669 (1990). ¶ 40 If a municipality were held bound through equitable estoppel by the unauthorized acts......
  • Bd. of Trs. of Harvey Firefighters’ Pension Fund v. City of Harvey
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • 4 d5 Agosto d5 2017
    ...of Ad–Ex, Inc. v. City of Chicago , in which Chicago had an ordinance that required signs to be set back 500 feet from expressways. 207 Ill. App. 3d 163, 165, 152 Ill.Dec. 136, 565 N.E.2d 669 (1990). Chicago entered into a settlement agreement with the plaintiff that waived the 500-foot set......
  • Universal Outdoor, Inc. v. City of Des Plaines, 1-91-2589
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • 11 d5 Setembro d5 1992
    ......Sullivan, William A. Von Hoene, Jr., Robert R. Stauffer, Jenner & Block, Paul G. Simon, Chicago, for plaintiff-appellee.         Odelson & Sterk, Ltd., Mathias W. Delort, Burton S. ...        On September 19, 1990, the decision in Ad-Ex, Inc. v. City of Chicago (1990), 207 Ill.App.3d 163, 152 Ill.Dec. 136, 565 N.E.2d 669, was issued ......
  • Lyon Fin. Servs., Inc. v. Ill. Paper & Copier Co.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of Illinois
    • 23 d4 Março d4 2017
    ...... David Alexander Darcy, Debra Devassy Babu, Askounis & Darcy, P.C., Chicago, IL, for Plaintiff. Andrew Theodore Staes, Staes & Scallan P.C., Chicago, ... Am. Nat'l Bank of Minnesota v. Hous. & Redevelopment Auth. for City of Brainerd , 773 N.W.2d 333, 337 (Minn. Ct. App. 2009). Considering ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT