With over 30 years of direct experience with land use and zoning matters, SBBK’s attorneys have represented hundreds of landowners, developers, municipal and county governments. This strong history with the public and private sector uniquely positions the firm to offer capabilities and relationships to develop creative strategies that maximize project economics, minimize delays and deliver desired outcomes in an efficient manner. Members of our zoning and land use team have served in local government or currently serve as general counsel or special counsel to municipalities and counties throughout Illinois, bringing a unique government perspective that is pivotal to delivering successful results in land use and regulatory matters.
Land Use and Zoning
We counsel clients who need zoning and land use relief including reconciling disputes with municipal and county government and resolving matters related to zoning variances, map amendments, text amendments, planned unit developments, redevelopment projects, special uses, historic preservation, subdivision approvals, business and liquor licensing and permitting. Our attorneys have been involved in the negotiation of innumerable annexation and disconnection agreements, development agreements and recapture agreements. We draft agreements between multiple land owners or developers to facilitate the construction of shared infrastructure such as sewer or water treatment plants and road improvements.
Land Use and Zoning Litigation
We argue on behalf of clients in contested matters involving challenges to zoning decisions, denials of subdivision approvals, denials of licenses or permits and court ordered disconnection, annexation and condemnation matters in front of Circuit and Appellate Courts throughout Illinois and the Federal District Court.
We have worked with private landowners and municipalities in establishing tax increment financing districts and tax abatements, special assessments, special service areas and business districts. We frequently negotiate and draft Redevelopment Agreements for individual TIF projects.
We represent public and private clients in relation to the siting, design and approval of wind farms and regional pollution facilities and regularly represent clients before environmental agencies.
Condemnation and Eminent Domain
When private land is needed to achieve a public goal such as widening a road, building a school, or advancing a commercial development through a TIF, SBBK has extensive experience successfully representing both landowners and local and state government in condemnation proceedings, affording our clients the advantage of a legal team that understands the complexities of each case from both sides.
Government Regulation and Approvals
We regularly appear before municipal and county zoning boards, and represent client interests in securing licenses and permits from federal, state and local administrative agencies. We navigate clients through the permitting and regulatory processes of the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Illinois Department of Housing, the Department of Healthcare and Family Services and other local, regional and state entities.
Zoning and Land Use Leaders
SBBK’s zoning attorneys are recognized as influential leaders in the land use, zoning and government approvals field.
Former 36th Ward Chicago Alderman William J.P. Banks chaired the Zoning Committee at the Chicago City Council for 20 years, making him the longest serving Chairman of Zoning in Chicago’s history. Mayor Daley appointed Bill Banks as Chairman of the Zoning Reform Commission, which was responsible for the updating and rewriting of the City of Chicago Zoning Ordinance. Since the Zoning Reform Commission completed its work in 2004, Bill has been contacted by governments from as far away as the Ukraine who are using Chicago's new zoning laws as a model for their countries' land development standards. In 2009, Bill retired from City government after serving 26 years as Alderman, and 32 years total including his service as Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City. He currently maintains his political positions of 36th Ward Democratic Committeeman and Treasurer of the Cook County Democratic Party.
Thomas Burney formerly served on the McHenry County Zoning Board of Appeals. In 2004, Tom and Patrick Brankin co-authored the chapter entitled “Litigation of a Zoning Case” in the Illinois Land Use Law handbook for the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education.
Jerome S. Schain was the legal counsel in charge of preparation of the 1976 Cook County Zoning Ordinance and a former supervisor of the zoning and condemnation departments of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.