Judge says Glen Ellyn 'jumping gun' in dispute with COD

  • Village of Glen Ellyn officials issued two stop orders and nine citations for ongoing construction work at the College of DuPage last Thursday, Friday and Monday. A judge says those actions were "a bit aggressive" and not in the spirit of intergovernmental cooperation.

    Village of Glen Ellyn officials issued two stop orders and nine citations for ongoing construction work at the College of DuPage last Thursday, Friday and Monday. A judge says those actions were "a bit aggressive" and not in the spirit of intergovernmental cooperation. Photo Courtesy College of DuPage

 
 
Updated 12/8/2011 3:01 PM

A DuPage County circuit court judge says Glen Ellyn officials are "jumping the gun" by issuing stop work orders and citations to the College of DuPage for ongoing construction projects on campus.

COD officials say the village has issued a total of nine citations and two stop work orders for projects that include a new outdoor amphitheater, updated tennis courts and renovated parking lots. Each citation carries a maximum $750 fine.

 

Village officials were on site last Thursday, Friday and Monday, but not Tuesday -- when Judge Terence Sheen said in court that the village's code enforcement actions are "a bit aggressive and contrary to the spirit" of his Nov. 8 ruling, which encouraged cooperation between the two parties.

"My goal was for each side to understand that it's best that two governmental agencies who rely on taxpayer dollars spend the money wisely and seek to find common ground," Sheen said, according to a court transcript.

Sheen's original 20-page ruling indicated the college may be subject to village building inspections, permitting and approvals, but the ruling also said there is shared jurisdiction on the 273-acre campus. In the absence of both sides working cooperatively, Sheen said he would have to apply a three-part legal test to determine which village ordinances apply to the college.

"Until I find the ordinances apply, they don't apply. That's what the law says," Sheen told Village Attorney Stewart Diamond in court. "So I don't know why you're doing this and not waiting until you give me the opportunity to do my job."

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Diamond said the village believed "the college was in clear violation of the law" by not having local building permits. He said the village would file a written response with a list of local ordinances officials wish to apply to the college.

According to Sheen's November ruling, the test is:

• The municipality's exercise of power must pertain to its government and affairs.

• The state legislature must not have specifically pre-empted the power or function that the municipality seeks to exercise.

• If the first two conditions exist, then the courts must "determine the proper relationship between the local ordinance and the relevant state statute."

Diamond has said he believes the ordinances the village wishes to apply pass the test.

The college's attorneys filed a motion in court this week asking Sheen to clarify his ruling, arguing that it wasn't meant to be applied retroactively to current construction projects on campus. Many projects are about 95 percent complete and are scheduled to be finished next week.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We have a village now who's overreaching, who's grandstanding, who's coming onto the project putting orange stop work orders into the ground ..." COD attorney Steve Ruffalo told Sheen. "The village (is) taking what you offered as an olive branch and a sensible resolution opportunity and using it as a club to club the college into submission by saying, 'We will stop you. We will throw contractors off of your project.' It has reached the point of ridiculousness, judge."

Village Manager Mark Franz said the village has stopped issuing citations and stop work orders while Sheen evaluates which local ordinances apply to COD.

Meanwhile, village officials said this week they have offered the college possible terms for a 2012 intergovernmental agreement concerning construction and other regulatory activities on COD's campus.

They previously said they favored readopting a 2007 agreement that COD withdrew from in December 2008. COD officials, however, have favored a 2011 agreement. Each side said the other's preferred agreement cedes too much authority.

Both sides are due in court again next month.

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