Zoning decision prompts litigation

Zoning decision prompts litigation

By Rick Wade
Opponents of the rezoning of the former Carlinville Area Hospital filed a complaint July 22 against the city of Carlinville and the Macoupin County Housing Authority in the Seventh Judicial Circuit Court.

The MCHA has been seeking to rezone the property at 1001 Morgan Street in order to convert the facility into affordable housing for military veterans.

The plaintiffs listed with the lawsuit are Aimee Arseneaux-Payne, Nathan Payne, Camille Cooper Brotze, Wayne A. Brotze, Beth Toon, Dennis Toon, Sherry Brianza, Patt Heinz, Henrey R. Stark, Lola Stark, Kendall Harding, Leonard Burns and Dorothy Burns.

In addition to the city of Carlinville, other defendants listed in the case are the Macoupin County Housing Authority, Mayor  Deanna Demuzio, city clerk Carla Brockmeier and aldermen Mark Staerk, George Cerar, Tim Coonrod, Jan Best, Brian Mitchell, Doug Downey, Joe Direso, Sara Oswald and Dave Steiner.

When contacted by the Macoupin County Enquirer-Democrat on July 24, Mayor Deanna Demuzio said the city learned of the complaint the day before, but as yet had not been served.

According to the plaintiff’s attorney, Brian Kalb, the defendant has 30 days to respond, or file an answer, once they are served with the formal complaint. He said they are in the process of providing that service to the defendants.

The case has yet to be assigned a judge, who, said Kalb, will decide how the complaint moves forward.

The plaintiffs are asking the court to reverse the city council’s decision to allow the rezoning and have it declared void.

In support of their request, the complaint accuses the defendants of failing to notify the residents in the neighborhood of the decision to pass a second amended zoning application and further, they were not provided notice of the language of the ordinance prior to its passage. Plaintiffs claim that Aaron Coe, Carlinville’s zoning administrator, failed to provide area residents with notice of a second amended application and public hearing and instead provided residents with an alleged notice deposited in their mailboxes without postage.

During the July 15 city council meeting Coe admitted to having done this.

They additionally assert that the council failed to provide first and second readings of the ordinance before its passage.

The heart of the complaint filed July 22 argues that the city council’s decision in rezoning the property actually violates the Carlinville zoning code. Specifically, converting the hospital to multi-family would 1) diminish the property values of nearby single-family homes, 2) is inconsistent with the other zoning around the old hospital, and 3) would constitute unlawful spot zoning.

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