Scary news for preservationists – Crain’s reports that last week, an Illinois appellate court struck down the city of Chicago’s landmarks ordinance. The law was passed in 1968, three years after New York City’s, and like NYC’s law, Chicago’s requires permission from the mayor’s appointed Commission on Chicago Landmarks to alter or demolish any designated landmark building.
According to Crain’s, the standards used to determine landmark status were the issue in the court case – Appellate Court Judge James Fitzgerald Smith wrote, “We believe that the terms ‘value,’ ‘important,’ ‘significant,’ and ‘unique’ are vague, ambiguous, and overly broad.”
While the ruling does not immediately invalidate the ordinance and technically involves only two of the city’s landmark districts, the decision could be applied to all of the city’s landmark areas, leaving them vulnerable to legal challenge, according to Crain’s. The Daley administration is considering appealing the case to the Illinois Supreme Court.