by Steven Ertelt
January 5, 2008
Aurora, IL (LifeNews.com) — Three different motions are in play at Monday’s meeting of the Zoning Appeals Board in Aurora, Illinois, on Monday night. There, pro-life advocates have worked overtime to try to shut down a new Planned Parenthood abortion business they contend violated zoning rules when it obtained its original permit to build.
City officials extended the occupancy permit of the abortion facility in December, but pro-life attorneys representing local residents said that shouldn’t have happened.
Attorneys with the Thomas More Pro-Life Law Center say extending the permit while an appeal of the zoning process continues is improper.
The board reconvenes this evening and it will consider the city’s motion to dismiss the Thomas More motions, and motions to subpoena city officials and to invalidate the backdated zoning approval for Planned Parenthood’s center.
"What all this means is that, on Monday, the ZBA can do anything from forcing the Appellants to court to forcing the City to follow its ordinance and close down the Planned Parenthood," Thomas More attorney Peter Breen told LifeNews.com last week.
"No guarantees on the latter, but it could happen," Breen said, adding "Either way, the hearing is a pretty big deal."
The Planned Parenthood has been embroiled in a zoning controversy since it first received approval to build a massive new abortion facility using the misleading name Gemini Development Corporation.
Since then, pro-life advocates have appealed the zoning approval process saying that a special permit should have been issued because Planned Parenthood is technically a non-profit group operating a health care facility.
City officials investigated the special permit argument last month and said the abortion center was built in a planned development district with its own set of zoning rules.
As Breen and Thomas Brejcha of Thomas More have appealed the zoning decision, the temporary occupancy permit expired last month.
City officials extended it to July 1, 2008 to allow more time for the zoning dispute to be resolved and for city engineers to conduct the required inspections of the new facility, but Breen and Brejcha say that’s illegal.
They say that the move violates the city’s own ordinances and that any decision on extending a temporary occupancy permit has to be suspended until the zoning dispute and inspections have been resolved.
City attorney Alayne Weingartz contends the city laws say the appeal only covers the original decision in October 2006 to allow building the new Planned Parenthood to proceed, not the decision to issue a temporary occupancy permit.
The dispute over the new abortion facility has become a national debate over how Planned Parenthood operates secretly, as it used a covert name to hide its identity during the zoning approval process.
Planned Parenthood used a similar secret process to open a new abortion center in Denver.