Columnist Takes on Illinois Appellate Court Decision

Posted on: February 5th, 2009 by Sarah Heffern

Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin has taken on the Illinois Appellate Court ruling that threatens the thousands of buildings now protected by Chicago’s landmarks law – and could set a dangerous precedent for landmarks laws nationwide.

The ruling… takes direct aim at the seven standards by which Chicago decides whether a building or district can be safeguarded from demolition or defacement—association with a significant historic event, evidence of important architecture and so on. A site must satisfy at least two of the seven standards to become a landmark.

While these criteria are expressed in common, easily understood language, that is not sufficient for the judges, who seem to yearn for hairsplitting, legalistic exactitude. "We believe," they write, "that the terms 'value,' 'important,' 'significant,' and 'unique' are vague, ambiguous, and overly broad."

Kamin takes the judges to task, asking if they reviewed any similar laws, featuring the same sort of terminology, in other cities, including New York, Boston, and Houston.

Take a moment to click through and read the full article. It’s a great take, and breaks down what could be a complex legal argument into an easily-understandable story.

Also... stop by our website to read Preservation magazine's Story of the Day on the issue by Margaret Foster.

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Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern is the social media strategist for the National Trust’s Public Affairs team. While she embraces all things online and pixel-centric, she’s also a hard-core building hugger, having fallen for preservation in a fifth grade “Built Environment” class. Follow her on Twitter at @smheffern.