Illinois Legislature Considering Changes to Business District Law

The Illinois legislature is currently considering SB 2523, which would amend the Business District Development and Redevelopment Law, 65 ILCS 5/11-74.3.  The proposed amendment was approved by the Illinois Senate in March 2010 and is currently being debated by the House of Representatives.

The Business District Law allows a municipality to establish a Business District and, if it is determined that the property within the Business District is blighted and certain conditions and procedures are met, enables a municipality to impose a Business District tax within the Business District and to use the funds generated to pay for Business District improvements.

SB 2523 proposes to change the definition of “blighted area” to an area “which, by reason of the predominance of defective, non-existent or inadequate street layout, unsanitary or unsafe conditions, deterioration of site improvements, improver subdivision or obsolete platting, or the existence of conditions which endanger life or property by fire or other causes, or any combination of those factors, retards the provision of housing accommodations or constitutes an economic or social liability, an economic underutilization of the area, or a menace to the public health, safety, morals or welfare.”  SB 2523 does not tie a blight finding to an area’s present condition and use since it deletes the words “in its present condition and use.”

Proposed SB 2523 may be in response to Geisler v. City of Wood River, 383 Ill. App.3d 828, 892 N.E.2d 543 (2008) in which the Circuit Court of Madison County decided that a blight finding in a Business District must be based on the area’s present condition and could not be based on the proposed future use of the area.  The court relied on the phrase “present condition and use” in the statutory language that defined a blighted area. The Fifth District Appellate Court upheld this decision.

Comments are closed.