Legislation filed in response to the costly bleacher battle between the City of Crystal Lake and District 155’s Crystal Lake South High School was signed into law on Thursday by Governor Bruce Rauner.
Sponsored by State Senator Pamela Althoff (R-McHenry) in the Senate and State Representative Mike Tryon (R-Crystal Lake) in the House, Senate Bill 2186, signed into law as Public Act 99-0890, requires school districts and their school boards to adhere to the zoning requirements of the municipality, county or township where the pertinent part of a building, structure, or addition is built. The bill further states that municipalities will make efforts to streamline the zoning process and ensure that any fees or costs tied to the review will be reasonable and not burdensome.
The new law seeks to clarify in the statutes the exact elements of local law that must be followed when schools engage in building or land improvements. In 2013, District 155 constructed a new set of home bleachers near the Crystal Lake South football field, and the new bleachers sat only 41 feet from neighboring property lines. Crystal Lake zoning ordinances require a 50-foot setback. The bleachers and press box were also of a size and height that would require zoning variances from the city. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which affirmed lower court decisions that school districts are subject to local zoning laws.
“This law echoes what the court already decided,” said Sen. Althoff. “But most importantly, it clarifies a gray area in the school code and lays down a clear path for future construction and developments.”
“Even though the City of Crystal Lake and District 155 ultimately reached an agreement, taxpayers for both bodies were left on the hook for the cost of both sides of the legal battle,” said Rep. Tryon. “Moving forward, school districts and municipalities will now have a clear roadmap for working together on these types of projects.”
The provisions of the bill took effect immediately upon the bill’s signing.