CL South Bleacher Case Brings Question: “What’s the Difference Between a Football Field and a NASCAR track?”

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.

A side view of the new South High School football bleachers.

A side view of the new South High School football bleachers.

“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.


CL South Bleacher Case Brings Question: “What’s the Difference Between a Football Field and a NASCAR track?” — 11 Comments

  1. Swan’s statements are insane. D155 & their lawyers are stating that a school (and this is any school in the state of Illinois) can do or build whatever they want to & screw the people, taxpayers or neighbors. Let’s pray the Judge has more sense than those lawyers & the district that hired them.

  2. This is just what we need to unite the Republican Party against tax and spend, big intrusive government RINOS!



  3. Wagner is going to China tomorrow.

    It’ll have to wait till he gets back along with the Teacher’s contract & strike threats.

  4. You guys keep forgetting…it’s for the kids.

    It’s always for the kids.

    Wagner going to China and avoiding issues is still for the kids.

  5. For all the great people commenting, encourage all the parents to have an in home suspension, keep the children home . . . the district will be hit in the pocket with Federal Funding. Maybe time for a parents protest.

  6. There are days I have no use for anyone in the Education Industry.

    Their arrogance is appalling.

    So much for teaching the kids about integrity.

  7. I was wondering, are they claiming that they could build a new building without a permit?

    If so, who inspects the new building to make sure the building is up to code?

  8. They are claiming that yes, they can indeed build absolutely anything they wanted to on school property if the regional superintendent approved it and issued building permits for it.

    They also claim that residents around any school in the state do not have any rights at all when it comes to what a school decides to build and how it affects their property/home and life investment.

    I believe the regional superintendent is in charge of the actual building codes and supposed inspection but the “home rule” of the city/town’s have the zoning rights to protect it’s residents/homeowner’s.

  9. Dumb arguments on both sides making their respective clients look even more foolish.

    NASCAR track?


    And the judge asks about a casino!?!?

    But they’re going to make law in McHenry County — by messing it up so an Appellate Court can step in and fix it.

    How many comedy shows are appearing and how often?

  10. This must be a joke! Chmiel cant make a decision on a cut and dry divorce case in less than a year, And he will on this one in a month hahahahahahaha.

    This judge shouldn’t be on the bench.

    And I quote “In my simple mind…” this he said in one divorce case.

    I feel sorry for both sides of this bleachers case.

    This judge is an idiot!!

  11. A big takeaway from this mess is the press, village, and public was not paying attention to what was ocurring at school board meetings.

    Schools might want to build casinos, stores, and who knows what else on their property to fund all their pension benefit increases passed by state legislators and signed by Governors.

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