The Grove Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing at 3 p.m. Tuesday and make a recommendation on a second re-zoning application from Longan Asphalt.

The application seeks to change four acres of land on the 17 acres owned by the firm, from commercial to heavy industrial, to accommodate a new Ready-Mix Concrete plant.

A petition drive led by Jack Forrest, Grove Real Estate Broker, has begun seeking 100 signatures protesting the re-zoning. The hearing Tuesday promises to be one of the more contentious meetings held by the P&Z board.

Longan wants to build a Ready-Mix concrete plant on the four acres of land, which is above the flood plain.  The current asphalt plant is grandfathered, since the plant was built in the 1980's prior to the land being annexed into the city.

The issue is certain to set off a debate on "spot zoning," which has been defined as "the zoning of a small area of land for a use that is not in harmony with the normal zoning plan for the area, especially if a small area is rezoned in a way that does not conform to the surrounding neighborhood."

Forrest has said he will file a lawsuit against the City of Grove if the zoning change is passed by City Council, which will take up the issue March 17.

Spot Zoning has generally been declared illegal in courts and is the number one issue involving citizens suing a municipality, Forrest says.  Spot Zoning has been the issue in at least 50 court cases.  In most cases, the city loses, Forrest adds.

For example, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court found that spot zoning is illegal on both constitutional and statutory grounds.  The Court of Appeals in Massachusetts found that spot zoning arises "where a zoning change is designed solely for the economic benefit of the owner of the property receiving special treatment and is not in accordance with a well considered plan for the public welfare."

According to another court decision (Landcaster Development Ltd. v. Village of River Forest) the court stated that for spot zoning to exist, two requisites must coexist: “One, a change of the zone applicable to a small area and second, a change which is out of harmony with comprehensive planning for the good of the community."

There are times when spot zoning is warranted, however, such as in the case of a corner service station in a residential area which serves as a convenience to the nearby homeowners, legal experts point out.

Adherence to good planning and zoning practices prevents spot zoning applications, real estate sources point out.  In Illinois there is a specific set of requirements, which a Planning Commission must consider when evaluating a request for the rezoning of a parcel of land, noting that good planning practices will prevent spot zoning.

In the Longan rezoning case, the area has been designated as Commercial for many years.

Across the street is a Family Dollar Store and a road leading to a new housing development on Carey Bay.  The area east of the asphalt plant is currently in the flood plain and subject to the Army Corps of Engineers and GRDA.  When the lake reaches elevation 755 much of the area is underwater.

Longan has not said what it intends to do with the wastewater generated each day from hosing down the concrete trucks.  Currently there is a small pond on the property.

Up to 10 concrete trucks per day will exit on to the newly constructed Highway 59 leading in to the Grove Business District, which will track dust, dirt and gravel on the highway.

At a previous hearing on the matter, the P&Z Board did not reject the application to re-zone the full 17 acres, but instead suggested that 6.36 acres be rezoned, thereby creating the issue of "spot zoning.”

A new survey was done which resulted in four acres being submitted instead of 6.36 acres.