On August 25, 2016, Governor Rauner signed into law Public Act 99-890, which is the result of an effort by the education community to temper the effect of the recent Supreme Court decision in Gurba v. Community High School District No. 155. Gurba is the infamous bleacher case that held that school districts are subject to the zoning requirements of home rule municipalities. Our analysis of this case can be found here.
Specifically, the new law provides that all counties, townships, and municipalities must act in a reasonable manner when processing zoning applications from public school districts that neither regulates educational activities nor frustrates a school district’s statutory duties. Further, in processing zoning applications, reasonable efforts must be made to streamline the zoning application process and minimize administrative burdens, such as reducing application fees and other costs, limiting the number of times a plan must be amended, reducing the number of copies of plans that must be submitted, and expediting the review process in order to render a decision within 90 days.
While the law confirms that school districts are subject to zoning regulations, it also limits the onerous impact of the Gurba decision. A public body with zoning authority may not infringe on a school district’s ability to provide educational services or unreasonably delay a school district project. As stated above, this legislation was the result of the work of numerous members of the education community, led by Ed-Red, IASB, LEND, SCOPE, and others.