Recently, a bill was introduced in the Illinois Senate that would significantly restrict local zoning authority. The Illinois Chapter of the American Planning Association has prepared and sent out an “e-blast” about the proposed legislation encouraging APA members to oppose the bill. Below is some of the information sent out by the IL-APA about this bill:
APA Illinois Position on SB 1675
Summary:  Amends the Zoning Division of the Illinois Municipal Code, 65 ILCS 5/11-13-1 et seq. Provides that a municipality, including home rule municipalities, may not restrict residents from constructing a season extension or crop protection device from each October 1 through April 15. Provides that “season extension or crop protection device” means a temporary structure that meets the following specifications:
  • the structure is used for growing agricultural products for personal consumption on private property; 
  • the structure is wholly on the owner’s property; 
  • it is a skeletal structure comprised of materials that are easily constructed and easily deconstructed; and 
  • the walls of the structure are comprised of plastic membranes or firm translucent material.
Analysis:  SB1675 is a significant prohibition on the exercise of otherwise broad municipal zoning power regarding a very specific type of temporary structure. Further, there is no legislative pronouncement explaining why the General Assembly has determined that residential crop protection structures warrant a special treatment and immunity from land use regulation, unlike other uses. In fact, the bill appears to be in response to some very specific situations. The home rule preemption is also a very unusual part of the proposed legislation. It is rare for the General Assembly to preempt home rule powers on unique local matters. Based on this, APA Illinois has determined that:
  • This bill is an unnecessary limitation on municipal zoning powers over a very specific temporary use that may be placed on any part of a property, including front yards. 
  • Each municipality should maintain its authority over temporary structures and determine the best zoning regulatory approach that is consistent with its land use policies and plans, and enables for the appropriate protections of its residentially zoned neighborhoods and commercially zoned areas.