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Rooftop Owners Sue City Over Wrigley Deal

And so, it begins.

Rooftop fans, as were many others, were more interested in the air show than the game Thursday.
Rooftop fans, as were many others, were more interested in the air show than the game Thursday.
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

On a day with a Cubs afternoon game to recap and the news of a new commissioner of baseball elected, I didn't want the story of the rooftop owners' lawsuit to go unnoticed:

Owners of eight rooftop clubs abutting Wrigley Field filed suit today to overturn city approval of the $375 million plan to rebuild the aging ballpark, saying the city broke its own rules in OK'ing the plan and effectively deprived them of their property rights without due process.

In an action filed in Cook County Circuit Court, the eight — which include about half of the rooftops in total, but all of those most affected by proposed new signs — ask a judge to reverse the approval, an action that, if granted, almost certainly would bring the project to a screeching halt. Named as defendants are the Commission on Chicago Landmarks and its members, as well as the city of Chicago itself, but not the Cubs.

The article goes on to detail the reasons behind the lawsuit; in summary, the rooftops are arguing that the Landmarks Commission "arbitrarily" reversed its own decision of the prior year approving new Wrigley signage, that this decision was "inequitable," and that "defendants deprived plaintiffs of their property rights without due process of law."

It should be noted, because her name has often been mentioned in various comments made here and elsewhere about the rooftop/Cubs dispute, that Beth Murphy and Murphy's Bleachers are not among the plaintiffs in this suit:

... her establishment would not be affected by the new signs as much as those that sued: clubs that operate at 3609-11, 3717, 3719, 3627, 3633 and 3637 N. Sheffield Ave.; 1034 W. Waveland Ave.; and 3701 N. Kenmore Ave.

Those establishments, the suit contends, "have suffered and will continue to suffer irreparable harm from the planned and imminent development, construction and operation of the Jumbotron, outfield signs and additional bleacher seats."

I'm not a lawyer so I'll defer to those here who are to comment from a legal standpoint. It seems to me that the key to this whole thing is whether a judge is willing to grant the rooftop owners an injunction to halt the Cubs' construction process, which hasn't yet begun. If no injunction is granted, presumably the Cubs could begin immediately. "Immediately" likely meaning when the season ends -- not only are there 22 home games left, but also concerts at Wrigley in September which would mean equipment set up along Waveland and Sheffield that would interfere with any sort of construction project.

If an injuction is granted -- well then, all bets are, as they say, off. The Cubs and the rooftop owners are reported to still be in talks about this issue and in the end, they might wind up going back to the originally approved proposal from the summer of 2013, which contained just two signs (the left-field Jumbotron and a fixed sign in right field) rather than the seven approved last month.

Danny Ecker of Crain's echoes some of those thoughts:

As always, we await developments.