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Case Number: 93978
Court: Supreme Court of Illinois
Plaintiff's Attorney: Unknown
Defendant's Attorney: Unknown
Description: Plaintiffs, Joseph E. Birkett, State's Attorney of Du Page County, on behalf of the People of the State of Illinois, the County of Du Page, the Village of Bensenville, the City of Elmhurst, and the City of Wood Dale, filed a two-count amended complaint seeking (1) a declaration that the City of Chicago was constructing certain improvements at O'Hare International Airport in violation of the Illinois Aeronautics Act (Act) (620 ILCS 5/1 et seq. (West 2000)); and (2) an order enjoining the further construction of any such improvements until such time as the City complied with the Act. The circuit court of Du Page County entered summary judgment in the City's favor and denied plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment and injunctive relief. In addition, the trial court denied the request of United States Congressman Henry J. Hyde and State Senator James "Pate" Philip to intervene as plaintiffs. Plaintiffs appealed, and the appellate court concluded that entry of summary judgment in the City's favor was erroneous. 329 Ill. App. 3d 477. We granted the City's petition for leave to appeal. 177 Ill. 2d R. 315(a). In addition, we allowed the submission of several amicus curie briefs supporting both the City and plaintiffs. 155 Ill. 2d R. 345.
Section 47 of the Act (620 ILCS 5/47 (West 2000)) prohibits a municipality from making "any alteration or extension of an existing airport *** for which a certificate of approval has not been issued by the [Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT)]." As the owner and operator of O'Hare International Airport, the City routinely undertakes a wide variety of projects designed to improve airport facilities. These projects generally fall into one of three categories: (1) "airfield" development, which includes runways, taxiways, aprons, hold pads, cargo areas, hangars, and other areas designed to facilitate the movement of aircraft; (2) "terminal" development, which includes terminals, concourses, and other areas designed to facilitate the movement of people through the airport; and (3) "landside" or "ground transportation" development, which includes roadways, parking facilities, mass transit, and other facilities designed to facilitate the movement of vehicles to and from the airport terminals. The City admits that it previously has undertaken extensive terminal and ground transportation improvements at O'Hare without first obtaining a certificate of approval from IDOT and that it intends to continue undertaking such improvements in the future. These improvements include new and renovated terminals, renovated concourses, new and renovated roadways, and expanded parking facilities.
On December 22, 1995, plaintiffs filed a two-count amended complaint against the City. Count I, an action in quo warranto, alleged that, in clear violation of section 47, the City was undertaking substantial terminal and ground transportation improvements at O'Hare without first obtaining a certificate of approval from IDOT. Specifically, count I alleged that the City "currently has under construction tens of millions of dollars of physical alterations to [O'Hare]" and "in the past has constructed, or plans to build several hundred million dollars of additional construction projects at O'Hare." Accordingly, plaintiffs sought both a declaration that the City's actions were without authority and an order prohibiting the City from "constructing current and proposed alterations at O'Hare" without first obtaining a certificate of approval from IDOT. Count II, which was brought specifically under the Act, incorporated all of the allegations of count I, adding that "the intended primary purpose of much of the recent, ongoing and planned construction at O'Hare Airport is to incrementally expand the capacity of the airport" both to the detriment of neighboring communities and without the approval of IDOT. Count II sought an order prohibiting the "continued construction of current and proposed piecemeal elements of Chicago's construction program at O'Hare" without first obtaining a certificate of approval from IDOT.
On December 16, 1996, the trial court allowed Congressman Hyde and State Senator Philip to intervene as plaintiffs. The trial court later vacated this decision, concluding that Congressman Hyde and Senator Philip did not have standing to intervene.
On June 6, 2000, the City filed a motion for summary judgment. Plaintiffs responded with a cross-motion seeking both partial summary judgment and an injunction against "further physical alterations at O'Hare until these alterations are submitted to the State for a certificate of approval, and the State has issued a certificate of approval." After hearing arguments and reviewing the parties' briefs, the trial court entered summary judgment in the City's favor and denied plaintiffs' motion in its entirety. In so ruling, the trial court explained that the phrase "any alteration or extension of an existing airport," as set forth in section 47, is ambiguous. After considering both the Act as a whole and the IDOT regulation construing section 47 (see 92 Ill. Adm. Code §14.640 (2000)), the trial court determined that section 47 requires IDOT certification only for those alterations and extensions that affect "flight safety, glide path, obstruction of approaches, and things of that matter." Because none of the projects targeted by plaintiffs' complaint in any way implicated such matters, the trial court concluded that IDOT certification for those projects was unnecessary.
Plaintiffs appealed, and the appellate court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. 329 Ill. App. 3d 477. Initially, the appellate court agreed with the trial court's conclusion that section 47 requires IDOT certification only for those projects that impact runways or flight patterns. 329 Ill. App. 3d at 484-85. The appellate court then held, however, that the City may not evade compliance with section 47's certification requirement by segmenting a comprehensive project that includes alterations to runways or flight patterns into a series of smaller pieces. Thus, because there is evidence in the record to suggest that the contested terminal and ground transportation improvements to O'Hare are but one component of an overall plan that includes new or reconfigured runways, the appellate court concluded that the entry of summary judgment in the City's favor was erroneous. 329 Ill. App. 3d at 485. The appellate court additionally held that (1) plaintiffs were not entitled to injunctive relief; (2) federal law does not preempt section 47's certification requirement; and (3) the trial court's refusal to allow Congressman Hyde and Senator Philip to intervene was not an abuse of discretion. 329 Ill. App. 3d at 486-491.
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Click the case caption above for the full text of the Court's opinion.
Outcome: For the foregoing reasons, the judgment of the appellate court is affirmed in part and reversed in part, and the judgment of the circuit court is affirmed.
Plaintiff's Experts: Unavailable
Defendant's Experts: Unavailable