Guth v. Tazewell County, No. 11-3452 (7th Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff owns properties in a mixed rural/suburban area in central Illinois and lives in a house on one parcel. The other parcels, about 190 acres and near the house, were zoned agricultural and very close to a hog farm. The owners of two other properties in proximity to the hog farm obtained rezoning to the “rural residential” classification, but the county declined plaintiff’s applications for rezoning. Plaintiff sued in state court; the court entered an “Agreed Order” that stated that the parcels should be rezoned, but did not order that they be rezoned. One year later, the zoning board held the required hearing and recommended approval. The County Board voted 11 to 10 in favor of the applications, less than a three-fourths majority, which functioned as a denial. In 2008, the Board granted the applications, but the real estate market had collapsed, and the parcels were no longer worth more zoned residential than they had been when zoned agricultural. Plaintiff sought damages under 42 U.S.C. 1983. The district court entered summary judgment for the defendants. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, noting that protection of agriculture was a rational, nonretaliatory motive for voting against the applications.