The arguments have been made.
The case has gone to Judge Michael Chmiel.
And people will have to wait about a month and a half to learn which side will appeal.
Make no mistake that this is an important case.
The traditional view of municipal Home Rule powers is that they encompass pretty much everything that the Illinois General Assembly does not prohibit.
School District 155 attorney Robert Swaim argued that the Life Safety Code governs both building and zoning.
Justin Hansen, representing the City of Crystal Lake, said Swan was correct as far as the building part of the question went, but not with relation to zoning.
Toward the end of the one and a half hour hearing, the Court asked,
“Is this a building or a zoning issue?”
“If there is a law making that differentiation, we haven’t found it,” Swan answered.
“When is something a local issue and when is it a state issue?” Crystal Lake attorney Hansen rejoined.
“We know that building [schools] is state.
“The same isn’t true of zoning. The city is raising no issue [with regard] to the building code.”
“It’s a tough one,” the Judge concluded.
“I think we’ll make some law here in McHenry County.
“I won’t take offense if this goes south to Elgin [to the Appellate Court].”
The importance of the case was epitomized by Hansen when he suggested Swan’s interpretation of the irrelevance of Home Rule zoning powers would allow a school district to build a NASCAR track on school property.
The Court asked specifically about that possibility after arguments had been concluded.
“When it comes to school purposes, a school can do whatever it wants,” he said.
“What’s the difference between a football field and a NASCAR track?”
“If a school had a race car course and got the Regional Superintendent [of Education’s permission], it would be able to build it,” Swan said.
“We have clients who have constructed a methane collection facility. School buildings are things other than four walls with desks.”
Judge Chmiel also wanted to know who had the authority to zone school property.
“The General Assembly” was the short answer Swan gave.
The Judge also asked about putting a casino on school property.
Swaim explained that schools do not have carte blanche, but if they had “a dealer school, then they might build a card room to carry out school purposes.”
Swan argued is the city could “dictate zoning, it could dictate curriculum.
The decision will be rendered on December 18th.