In addition to saving historic resources across the country, preservationists often find themselves fighting to save a different kind of resource: the historic preservation laws themselves. Challenges to the laws that protect historically significant buildings, neighborhoods, and landscapes come from all angles and at all levels of government. The validity of these preservation laws is well established by the decisions of federal and state courts, but the need to protect existing law is especially important when the challenge is focused on a major city.
Preservationists in Chicago scored an important victory recently in a long-standing legal battle over the Chicago Landmarks Ordinance, when Judge Sophia Hall ruled on May 2 that Chicago’s preservation law is not “unduly vague.” The judge issued this ruling in response to a constitutional challenge filed by opponents of the law, who argued that the wording of the law is so unclear that it must be struck down as unconstitutional.
The court’s ruling strongly rejected the argument that the Chicago preservation ordinance is vague, and instead held that the language of the law does have a common, intelligible meaning. In other words, Chicago’s ordinance can be fairly understood by ordinary people without having to guess at what the law means. ... Read More →