Category Archives: Collinsville Illinois

Collinsville Building Permit Analysis – lies, lies, lies…

The City of Collinsville presumes to impose a building permit requirement for any improvement to your home in excess of $500. I had the pleasure of having one of the Code Enforcers, Officer Wasser, stop by my home when I was having siding replaced. She told me that I needed a building permit since the work was in excess of $500. The only thing Wasser saw was siding partially removed from my home and boxes of siding in the driveway, which I doubt she could positively identify as siding. She did not know what the siding cost, if anything. She did not know if I was putting the siding on myself or having it done by a contractor. She just “assumed” that the value of the materials resulted in an “improvement” to my home in excess of $500, and therefore necessitated a building permit. I asked Wasser to cite the Code provision to which she was referring and she said she could not recall it specifically. I informed her that I would review the Code and if I felt it necessary, would procure the permit. I told her that based on my understanding of the Code and how it is often misapplied, I would not be getting a permit.

I then went on to research the Code, with particular attention to the $500 improvement reference. What I found was this provision. Let’s look at the wording:
Chapter 15.04 – Construction Codes Adopted
Sec. 15.04.080. – Minor repairs; requirements
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to require a permit, fee, inspection certificate or approval of any minor repairs made at a cost of less than five hundred dollars ($500.00), but the fire prevention, construction, safety, installation, materials and other standards of the technical codes adopted in Section 15.04.010 shall apply to such work.

Let’s break it down:
Minor repairs – The code does not define repairs, but the dictionary does.
re·pair
1 [ri-pair]
verb (used with object)
1. to restore to a good or sound condition after decay or damage; mend: to repair a motor.
2. to restore or renew by any process of making good, strengthening, etc.: to repair one’s health by resting.
3. to remedy; make good; make up for: to repair damage; to repair a deficiency.
4. to make amends for; compensate: to repair a wrong done.

Repair does not include improvements, modifications, additions, or replacements. It means to bring something from a damaged state or an improved state. To replace one’s siding is not a repair. It is removing siding and replacing with new siding. Maybe I am tired of the color of my otherwise good siding and wish to replace it with siding of a different color. Is that a repair? Wasser apparently believes it is.

Reading further, the Code says:
“Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to require a permit, fee, inspection certificate or approval of any minor repairs…”
This essentially says that nothing in the Code shall be construed (which means interpreted) to require a permit, fee…. It is curious wording, but it says what it means. The Code does not explicitly require a permit, fee… for minor repairs so you should not construe (imply) that it does. However, it goes on to say …“made at a cost of less than five hundred dollars ($500.00)” How does that change anything? Some people read this to mean, “Nothing in this chapter shall interpreted to require a permit, fee, inspection certificate or approval at a cost of less than $500, but if it is more than $500 I need a permit, fee…”

Another way to read this, as most people do, is “This chapter shall require a permit, fee, inspection certificate or approval of any minor repairs made at a cost of more than five hundred dollars ($500). But it does not say that. If that’s was what is meant it is what would be said. That is like saying, “Nothing in this article shall be construed to mean you are a blithering idiot if you do not read every sentence three times.” Does that mean that you are a blithering idiot if you do not read each sentence three times? Of course not. However, the City is a deceitful and tricky entity that knows it does not have the authority to do much of what it does without your ignorance and apathy to assist it in taking your money at every turn. The code is very adequate at requiring permits and fees for other things, and it is also specific. For instance:

Chapter 15.20 – MOVING BUILDINGS
Sec. 15.20.010. – Permit””Required.
No person shall remove, or cause to be removed, or aid or assist in removing any building into, along or across any street, alley or public ground in the City without first obtaining written permission from the City Manager or his designee, countersigned by the Mayor, and conforming to such restrictions and conditions as may be prescribed in such permit.

 – Put another way, “Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to not require a permit for any person who shall remove, or cause to be removed, or aid or assist in removing any building into, along or across any street, alley or public ground in the City without first obtaining written permission from the City Manager or his designee, countersigned by the Mayor, and conforming to such restrictions and conditions as may be prescribed.

Chapter 15.28 – DEMOLITION PERMITS
Sec. 15.28.010. – Permit required.
No person, firm, corporation or entity shall demolish any building in excess of two hundred (200) square feet without first securing a demolition permit.

– Put another way, “Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to not require a permit for any person, firm, corporation or entity who shall demolish any building in excess of two hundred (200) squre feet.

Sec. 15.40.050. – Development permit.
No person, firm, corporation or governmental body not exempted by State law shall commence any development in the SFHA without first obtaining a development permit from the City through its building inspector. The City through its building inspector shall not issue a development permit if the proposed development does not meet the requirements of this chapter.

– Put another way, “Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to not require a development permit of any person, firm, corporation or governmental body not exempted by State law to commence any development in the SFHA.”

Section 17.920 – TELECOMMUNICATION TOWERS
Sec. 17.920.050. – Authorization by administrative permit.
The placement of antennae and support structures are permitted in all nonresidential zoning districts only by administrative permit granted by the Zoning Administrator, as follows

– Put another way, “Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to not require an administrative permit for the placement of antennae and support structures in all nonresidential zoning districts.”

Are you beginning to see how saying something one way does not necessarily positively impose something else?

The point being, the Code could impose a permit and fee specifically, if they had the power to do so and could justify the arbitrary dollar limit of $500 on home repairs, and then, extend that to improvements as well. The City has been collecting these fees illegally and many people are happy to just pay it to avoid trouble. Sadly, that is the all-too-often commentary on people resisting tyrannical government.

Below are the applicable provisions of the Code and fees copied from Munilaw.com without modification:

Chapter 15.04 – Construction Codes Adopted
Sec. 15.04.080. – Minor repairs; requirements
Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to require a permit, fee, inspection certificate or approval of any minor repairs made at a cost of less than five hundred dollars ($500.00), but the fire prevention, construction, safety, installation, materials and other standards of the technical codes adopted in Section 15.04.010 shall apply to such work.

Chapter 15.20 – MOVING BUILDINGS
Sec. 15.20.010. – Permit””Required.
No person shall remove, or cause to be removed, or aid or assist in removing any building into, along or across any street, alley or public ground in the City without first obtaining written permission from the City Manager or his designee, countersigned by the Mayor, and conforming to such restrictions and conditions as may be prescribed in such permit.

Chapter 15.28 – DEMOLITION PERMITS
Sec. 15.28.010. – Permit required.
No person, firm, corporation or entity shall demolish any building in excess of two hundred (200) square feet without first securing a demolition permit.

Sec. 15.40.050. – Development permit.
No person, firm, corporation or governmental body not exempted by State law shall commence any development in the SFHA without first obtaining a development permit from the City through its building inspector. The City through its building inspector shall not issue a development permit if the proposed development does not meet the requirements of this chapter.

Section 17.920 – TELECOMMUNICATION TOWERS
Sec. 17.920.050. – Authorization by administrative permit.
The placement of antennae and support structures are permitted in all nonresidential zoning districts only by administrative permit granted by the Zoning Administrator, as follows:

Building permits
Sec. 4.01.010. – Established
(8) Building permits.
$50.00 limited building permit
$35.00 electrical permit 100 amp
$45.00 electrical permit 200 amp
$55.00 electrical permit 200 to 400 amp

Advertisements

Collinsville Sign Ordinance Interpretation – A Bair of a Law

This began with a conversation between myself and a landlord in Collinsville, Illinois where I was told of another landlord who placed a for rent sign on another person’s property, with permission and both were cited by the City for an “off premises” sign. The City apparantly made an issue out of the sign being “off premises”; a direct violation of the Code. A lawyer got involved and sent an email inquiry to one of the code enforcers who then forwarded the inquiry on to a Mr. Mitch Bair who is the AICP Community Development Director for the City of Collinsville. Mr. Bair went on over email to explain the “off premises” meaning within the Code and how that applies to real estate signs.

For the unitiated, let’s begin with the basic premise that people in government lie. They lie all the time. It is not a crime to lie. They know that the majority of people never study law, never read the laws, and would rather seek the path of least resistance and pay their petty fees than challenge them. It is up to you to familiarize yourself with the law and the limits of their power. If you allow them to run rough-shod over you then it is your own undoing and you cannot come back at them for your ignorance or apathy.

The story goes, a landlord had a property for rent that was off the public thoroughfare and as such, a for rent sign on the property would not be visible to the public. They made an arrangement with another neighbor to place the sign in their yard so as to direct traffic to the rental and the City cited both the landlord and the neighbor for illegal display of an “off premises” sign. The issue here being, how can two parties be cited for the same offense and is the violation, “off premises sign” applicable to rental signs?

I’ll not use the proper names of the landlords in this piece since retaliation by the City is not a foregone conclusion against people who speak out. I received an email from a Ms. Jane Doe wherein one of the code enforcers, Cassie Meyer, replied to a previous inquiry. Ms. Meyer wrote:

Hello Jane Doe,

You can put one “œFor Rent” sign at the house that is available for rent. Off-premise signs are not permitted, so you cannot put one in your neighbor”™s yard.
 
Open House signs are the exception””you may put one on site and one at the end of the street for the day prior and the day of the Open House. You do not need a permit for that but they must be removed after the event is over.
 
Please make sure that the signs are off of the public right of way, and let me know if you have any further questions. Thank you!
 
Cassie Meyer
Management Analyst
City of Collinsville
(618)346-5200 ext. 128
 
E-MAIL CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE:  The contents of this e-mail message and any attachments are intended solely for the adressee(s) and may contain confidential and/or legally privileged information.  If you are note the intended recipient of this message, or if this message has been addressed to you in error, please immediately alert the sender by reply e-mail and then delete this message and any attachments.  If you are not the intended recipient, you are notified that any use, dissemination, copying, or storage of this message or any attachment is strictly prohibited.

I particularly like the “CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE” that prohibits the “dissemination” of this message. I’ll be waiting. Nevertheless, it was this email that was forwarded to a lawyer named Thomas Spooner who then addressed Ms. Meyer about her interpretation of the Code and directing Jane Doe as to what was legal.

We first need to look at Ms. Meyer’s use of the word “off premises”. The Collinsville Municipal Code is maintained by Municode (http://www.municode.com/). You can access the code by visiting this link http://www2.collinsvilleil.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=105&Itemid=154 or by going to Municode.com, click “Browse the Library”, select “Illinois” and then Collinsville (http://www.municode.com/Library/IL/Collinsville). The ordinance regulating signage comes under Zoning (Title 17), Chapter 17.190 (Signage – General Provisions).Let’s first begin with the City’s General Regulations at Sec. 17.190.030 which state:

A. General prohibitions. Any graphic or sign not expressly permitted by this chapter is prohibited in the City of Collinsville.

That is a pretty bold and all-encompasing statement, the authority for such not to be addressed in this piece, but bear that statement in-mind when we get into some statements by the City regarding what is/is not permitted.

There is a section titled Definitions at 17.190.020. Despite what a dictionary may say, or your personal experience, a word used on an ordinance, statute, or law means ONLY what is defined in the Definitions, if it is defined there. So, if you think “off premises” means simply something not on a premises then you would be wrong since the word off-premises is defined in the ordinance. The word can have no other meaning once the Code defines it. It does not mean, “In addition to what you THINK the word means, it shall also mean this….” It means that, “We have defined the word here for its application to the Code and this definition shall control regardless of what you think it means.” So many people who have never studied law persume to apply their own interpretation and definitions.

Let’s examine “off premises”, per the Code. If we search the Code for the word “off-premises” (with the hyphen) we find 2 references in Title 17 – Zoning – Definitions:

Billboard. See “off-premises graphic”.

Off-premises graphic means a sign structure advertising an establishment, merchandise, service, or entertainment, which is not sold, produced, manufactured, or furnished at the property on which said sign is located.

At first blush, it would appear that it specifically applies to billboards. It is also a “sign structure”. A sign structure advertising an establishment, merchandise, service, or entertainment. What is an “establishment”?

Establishment means either of the following:

1. An institutional, business, commercial, or industrial activity that is the sole occupant of one (1) or more buildings, or

2. An institutional, business, commercial, or industrial activity that occupies a portion of a building such that:

a. The activity is a logical and separate entity from the other activities within the building and not a department of the whole, and

b. The activity has either a separate entrance from the exterior of the building, or a separate entrance from a common and clearly defined entryway that has direct access to the exterior of the building.

It sppears that an “establishment” has nothing to do with rental property. It deals with institutional, business, commercial, or industrial activity. So an off-premises graphic is a sign structure that advertises commercial activity, merchandise, services, or entertainment not found on the same property as where the sign is located.

So far, we are unconvinced that an “off-premises” sign applies to a stick in the mud with a piece or paper which reads “For Rent”. The evidence points to them being directly related to billboards, and being structures advertising establishments. The Code does go on to further address Off-premises signs. Looking at Sec. 17.190.040 7. – Prohibited, per,mitted and types of signs we find:

Off-premises signs.

a.Off-premises signs are permitted on either side of a federal interstate highway for six hundred sixty (660) feet from the nearest edge of the right-of-way, in accordance with the State Highway Advertising Control Act, 225 ILCS 440/1 through 440/16 and as it may hereafter be amended. See Subsection 17.190.010.B. which also exempts from this chapter the regulation of all advertising signs within six hundred sixty (660) feet of the nearest edge of the right-of-way of federal interstate highways.

b.Off-premises signs are permitted on commercial or industrial zone district lots or parcels of land that adjoin Illinois Route 157 right-of-way from Belt Line Road north to the City limits line and from Main Street south to the City limits line and on commercial or industrial zone district lots/parcels of land adjoining Illinois Route 159 right-of-way from Belt Line Road northerly to the City limits line and from S. Clinton south and westerly to the City limits lines, as provided for below in Subsection 5.).

1.) No such off-premises signs shall be located closer than three hundred (300) feet to another off-premises sign, on either side of the highway.

2.) All off-premises signs shall be constructed upon a single pole made of steel or metal of equivalent strength.

3.) No off-premises sign shall exceed thirty (30) feet at its highest point.

4.) Off-premises signs shall not be permitted within or over the public right-of-way.

5.) No more than five (5) off-premises signs are permitted per mile on each side of the highway. Nonconforming off-premises signs shall be included in this determination.

6.) The graphic area allowance for off-premises signs shall not exceed three hundred (300) square feet on property adjoining Illinois Route 157 from Belt Line Road north to the City limits and from Main Street south to the City limits, and on property adjoining Illinois Route 159 from Belt Line Road northerly to the City limits line and from South Clinton south and westerly to the City limits line.

7.) All off-premises signs erected while the moratorium has been in effect and now deemed illegal will be removed.

8.) Regulations contained in Subsections 17.190.020, 17.190.030.B””G., 17.190.040.A, 17.190.040.B., 17.190.050.E. and the administration and enforcement sections apply to off-premises signs.

First, notice how off-premises signs are described as being constructed of “single pole made of steel or metal”, “not exceeding 30 feet”….. This is clearly describing something large, like a billboard. It does NOT mean, “Not being on the premises” as a sole identifier. It has to do with size, construction, placement, and what is advertised.

So, if the City has gone through such lenghts to define “off-premises” signs in the Code, where does the confusion with rental signs come from? Well, the Code also addresses rental signs. Words such as “rental signs”, “real estate signs”, “for sale signs”, are not defined with respect to real estate. However, they are addressed in Sec. 17.190.040 – Prohibited, permitted and types of signs, under Subsection B, 13.

Permitted graphics. Every graphic enumerated below that complies with the indicated requirements may be erected in any zoning district of this City without a permit. The area of such graphics shall not be debited against the displaying establishment’s sign area allowance:

Real estate signs indicating the sale, rental, or lease of the premises on which said signs are located. Such signs on residential property shall not exceed nine (9) square feet in area; on other commercial property such signs shall not exceed thirty-two (32) square feet. No more than one (1) real estate sign per street front shall be placed on any lot. Such signs shall be removed within seven (7) days after the sale, rental, or lease.

The Real estate sign provision does use the word “premises”, but it does not use “off-premises”. Off-premises has already been defined and cannot be applied in this case since the definition already does not apply.

Below is the email thread between Thomas Spooner and Mitch Bair. The email is being used with permission of Mr. Spooner.
Notice how Bair attempts to define the use of real estate signs to suit himself and even cite non-existent provisions of the Code:

This is the email sent by Thomas Spooner to Cassie Meyer, who then forwarded to Mitch Bair for assistance.

From: Cassie Meyer Sent: Monday, January 07, 2013 9:37 AM To:
 Mitch E. Bair Subject: FW: Collinsville Sign Ordinance and Rental
  Property

 What would you like to do with this?

 From: Thomas Spooner [mailto:the.darrow.lawfirm@gmail.com] Sent:
  Saturday, January 05, 2013 10:30 PM To: Cassie Meyer Subject:
 Collinsville Sign Ordinance and Rental Property

 Hello, Ms. Meyer,

 I am contacting you for what I believe to be a
 misinterpretation/misapplication of the Collinsville sign
 ordinance (Chapter 17.190 et seq.) as relayed to me by several
 residents on the subject of property/rental signage. I am
 considering placing signs for property which is for rent, but
 which property is not where the sign will be placed due to
 visibility issues from the actual property. I have been cautioned
 against such practice by some who, subsequent to a
 grape-vine-hearsay rendition of the code’s interpretation by
 yourself and others, that such practice is prohibited and
 considered to be “off premises” signage. I wish to clarify by
 contacting you directly to as to avoid any unnecessary conflict
 or confrontation on the applicability of the Code.

 The advice I was given, and I am paraphrasing, was that, for-rent
  signs must be posted on the property which is for rent, and
 cannot be placed on another property. Such a sign is considered
 by the City as an “off premises” sign. I beg to differ.

 Referring to Sec. 17.190.020 – Definitions of the Code, the only
  reference to “off-premises” relates not to signs, but to
 graphics. I may be splitting hairs, but I wish to speak
 specifically and deliberately. There, we find a definition for
 “Off-premises graphic”, which means, “a sign structure
 advertising an establishment, merchandise, service, or
 entertainment, which is not sold, produced, manufactured, or
 furnished at the property on which said sign is located.” Given
 the nature of renting one’s house/apartment/domicile/abode… I
 fail to find any parity with an “establishment, merchandise,
 service, or entertainment”. Likewise, I am not offering any of
 the like being sold, produced, manufactured, or furnished, at
 said property. Therefore, I believe the classification of a
 rental sign posted somewhere other than where the property for
 rent is located as being an “off-premises” sign misleading,
 irresponsible, specious, and injurious to those upon whom
 penalties are assessed for transgressing an obvious fabrication.
 An “off premises” sign appears to conform more to what one would
 consider a billboard.

 While on the topic of real-estate/rental signs, let me direct you
  to Sec. 17.190.040 B. “Permitted Graphics, which reads to wit,
 “Every graphic enumerated below that complies with the indicated
  requirements may be erected in any zoning district of this City
  without a permit. The area of such graphics shall not be debited
  against the displaying establishment’s sign area allowance:”.
 Furthermore, the nearest definition applying in such a case is
 for 17.190.040 B. 13 – Real Estate signs, which reads, “Real
 estate signs indicating the sale, rental, or lease of the
 premises on which said signs are located. Such signs on
 residential property shall not exceed nine (9) square feet in
 area; on other commercial property such signs shall not exceed
 thirty-two (32) square feet. No more than one (1) real estate
 sign per street front shall be placed on any lot. Such signs
 shall be removed within seven (7) days after the sale, rental, or
 lease.” This is the closest definition to the kind of signs I am
 posting. However, there is nothing _prohibiting_ the placement of
 a rental sign on property different from the rental itself. For a
 sign to meet the definition of a “real estate sign”, the rental
 sign must be placed on the rental property, but it is not
 mandated that it be done as such. There is no definition for the
 type of signs I will be placing, and therefore, outside the
 enforceability of the Code.

 I was also told of a class of sign called “open house signs” that
  can be posted off the public right-of-way and which do not
 require a permit. I fail to find a definition or mention of an
 “open house sign”, in the Code. As I will not be performing an
 open house, I will not concern myself with that fiction until the
 time comes.

 In closing, there is an anecdote involving someone who placed a
 for rent sign on another individual’s property and both parties
 were fined for having violated the sign ordinance. I have not yet
  determined if this is true, but if it is, it is patently illegal
  and unlawful to fine both the landlord and the individual, upon
  whose property the sign was posted. I would be interested in
 your interpretation of that scenario and whether you can confirm
 or deny it ever having taken place. I can assure you, the people
 who are permitting me to place for rent signs on their property
 have been properly versed on the intent and application of the
 Code, as well as the limitations regarding its enforcement upon
 them. Notwithstanding any lawful citation to the contrary, or
 compelling interpretation of the code as it may apply in the
 above circumstances, I will consider the Code inapplicable in
 such circumstances and reserve my prerogative to act accordingly
  considering that silence is acquiescence.

 Thank you for your time and I look forward to your response.

 Sincerely,

 Thomas Spooner

This is the first response from Mitch Bair in response to Spooner’s email to Cassie Meyer.

On 1/7/2013 10:16 AM, Mitch E. Bair wrote:
 Mr. Spooner;

 Ms. Meyer forwarded me your inquiry regarding the advertisement
 of property for sale or lease at a location other than that of
 the location of the property for sale or lease. Unfortunately our
  current code prohibits this approach and requires the signage
 for the property in question to be located on the same premise
 and property of that for sale or lease.

 1.     Section 17.930.150 Definitions Graphic:  Any
 identification or advertising sign visible from the public
 right-of-way or from any parking area used by the general public.
 Sign:  A sign is any object, device, display or structure or part
 thereof, whether located inside or outside a building, which is
 visible from any lot line, and the primary purpose of which is
 the conveyance of an idea, advertising, endorsement,
 identification, or information by means of visual symbols,
 lettering, illustration or any other means of directing attention
 or communicating a message. Off Premises Graphic:  A sign
 structure advertising an establishment, merchandise, service, or
 entertainment, which is not sold, produced, manufactured, or
 furnished at the property on which said sign is located. The
 definitions clearly establish that a graphic is a sign and both a
 graphic and a sign constitute advertising products, services or
 entertainment for sale, rent or lease. Further, off premise
 signage is defined.

 2.     Section 17.930.240 Permitted Graphics: M. “Real estate
 signs indicating the sale, rental, or lease of the premises on
 which said signs are located. Such signs on residential property
 shall not exceed nine (9) square feet in area; on other
 commercial property such signs shall not exceed thirty-two (32)
 square feet. No more than one real estate sign per street front
 shall be placed on any lot. Such signs shall be removed within
 seven (7) days after the sale, rental or lease.” This section
 clearly mandates that all rental signs must be located on the
 same premise or property as that of the property being sold,
 rented or leased and may be placed on said property without a
 permit as long as it meets the requirements of this section.

 3.     Section 17.930.230 Prohibited Graphics or Signs: F.
 “Off-premise signs except as provided in Section 17.930.260G.”
 Any sign or graphic located not on the premise or property as the
  service, product or entertainment for sale, rent or lease is
 defined as an off premise sign and is prohibited. This also
 applies to real estate signs or graphics.

 Regarding the question of this issuance of citations for
 violating these regulations I can only say that we have issued
 citations for violation but can give no other specific details.
 This code is applied consistently as other City codes and
 violations are addressed with citations through our code
 enforcement process. Please be advised that all signage for real
 estate offered either for sale, rent or lease must meet the
 requirements listed above and shall be located on the property
 that is being sold, rented ort leased. If you have any further
 comments or questions please do not hesitate to contact me at
 your convenience and I would be happy to discuss this with you.

 Thank you Mitch

 Mitchell E. Bair, AICP Community Development Director The City of
  Collinsville 125 South Center Street Collinsville, IL  62234
 Email: mbair@collinsvilleil.org<;;mailto:mbair@collinsvilleil.org
 Voice: 618.346.5200 ext. 120 Cell: 618.301.2568 Fax:
 618.343.9192

 E-MAIL CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE:  The contents of this e-mail
 message and any attachments are intended solely for the
 addressee(s) and may contain confidential and/or legally
 privileged information. If you are not the intended recipient of
 this message, or if this message has been addressed to you in
 error, please immediately alert the sender by reply e-mail and
 then delete this message and any attachments. If you are not the
 intended recipient, you are notified that any use, dissemination,
 distribution, copying, or storage of this message or any
 attachment is strictly prohibited.

This is Spooner’s response to Bair’s email.

Mr. Bair,
Thank you for your response.
I must differ with the application of an “off premises graphic”
being applied to rental signs. The definition for off premises
graphic clearly pertains to things having nothing to do with
renting property. Rental property is not an establishment,
merchandise, service, or entertainment.

Where you refer to off-premises signs also applying to real estate
signs, that statement is unsupported by the definition in the
Code, i.e., establishment, merchandise, service, or entertainment.
Your statement, “This also applies to real estate signs or
graphics.” appears to be a personal interpretation and not a direct
code citation.

The code does not mandate that real estate signs be located on the
property being rented/sold/leased. It merely defines what
constitutes a real estate sign. If a rental sign is not placed on
the rental property it does not meet the definition of a real
estate sign and is simply a sign. Notwithstanding the code at Sec.
17.190.030. – General regulations.

A.General prohibitions. Any graphic or sign not expressly permitted
by this chapter is prohibited in the City of Collinsville.
There are free speech concerns present if the matter does not
involve commercial speech.

I will aver that the definition of sign/graphic may embrace the
type of sign I mentioned, but I do not believe that “off-premises”
graphics apply.

For clarification, should a sign be placed on a property other
than the one being rented/leased/sold, would the City seek to cite
both the individual posting the sign on their property or the
individual renting the property; and could you please refer me to
the Code section authorizing any such action?
Thank you again for your time.
Thomas Spooner

This is Bair’s response to Spooner’s response.

On 1/7/2013 12:45 PM, Mitch E. Bair wrote:
 Mr. Spooner;

 The code defines a real estate sign and states where they are
 permitted. If they are not placed on the property then they are a
 commercial sign and fall under the regulations of Section
 17.930.260, “Commercial Zone Districts”. If the property signage is
 not located at that said property it is then an off premise sign by
 definition and thereby prohibited. Given the definition of a real
 estate sign includes the statement of “the premises on which said
 signs are located” this is a regulatory restriction on where these
 signs may be located.

 In the event that a violation of any provision of the Zoning
 Regulations is found the owner of the premise is issued a citation.
 This power is provided in the Zoning Regulations under Section
 17.140, “Violations and Penalties”.

 Thank you Mitch

This is Spooner’s response to Bair’s response.

Mr. Bair,

Thanks again for your quick response. I am not able to reply as
quickly as I would like, as I am traveling with limited access to the
Internet.

I searched the code for Section 17.930.260, with no results. Is this
possibly a typo? Also, your statement, “If they are not placed on the
property then they are a commercial sign” is not supported by the
Code. The Code provides for the dimensions of the rental sign on
either residential or commercial property, but it does not state that
if the real estate sign is not on the premises then it is a commercial
sign. Nothing in the code attempts to redefine a real estate sign as a
commercial sign by virtue of its placement.

I believe we are looking at two interpretations of the work
“premises”. Colloquially, if something is not on a premises then it is
off-premises. The Code specifically defines “off premises” and
therefore, the general interpretation, not being on the premises, does
not apply. The Code is specific when it defines off-premises as a sign
structure advertising an establishment, merchandise, service, or
entertainment, which is not sold, produced, manufactured, or furnished
at the property on which said sign is located. Rental property does
not fit that definition. The use of the word “premises” in the real
estate sign definition cannot be extended to include off-premises,
since off-premises has its own special definition, and premises is not
defined in the Code so the common parlance would apply.
Your reference to “Commercial Zone Districts” deals with
establishments and/or commercial and industrial propertyes.
The code even goes on to define an “establishment”:
Establishment means either of the following:
1.An institutional, business, commercial, or industrial activity that
is the sole occupant of one (1) or more buildings, or
2.An institutional, business, commercial, or industrial activity that
occupies a portion of a building such that:
a.The activity is a logical and separate entity from the other
activities within the building and not a department of the whole, and
b.The activity has either a separate entrance from the exterior of the
building, or a separate entrance from a common and clearly defined
entryway that has direct access to the exterior of the building.
Clearly, the “establishment” defined in the Code pertains to
commercial activity. And as such, rental property not dealing with
merchandise, a service, or entertainment, the definition of
“off-premises”, as defined in the Code, cannot apply to rental property.

Therefore,

The code defines a real estate sign and states where they are
permitted – Agreed
If they are not placed on the property then they are a commercial sign
and fall under the regulations of Section 17.930.260, “Commercial Zone
Districts”. – Unsupported statement lacking citation
If the property signage is not located at that said property it is
then an off premise sign by definition and thereby prohibited. –
Unsupported statement. Off premises has been defined by the Code and
does not embrace real estate signs. The Code definitions even define
Billboard. See “off-premises graphic”.

Given the definition of a real estate sign includes the statement of
“the premises on which said signs are located” this is a regulatory
restriction on where these signs may be located. – Subject to
interpretation. I understand the City does not want real estate signs
littering the landscape, but where a property is removed from the
public thoroughfare and an agreement can be reached with another
individual to place the sign on their property, I think the code
as-written is prejudiced against the individual wishing to rent that
property.
Thank you again for your response.
Thomas Spooner

Having still not received a response from Bair, Spooner sent another email inquiring about the “Open House” sign referenced by Cassie Meyer, which is NOT found in the code.

Mr. Bair,
I still have not received a response to my last email, but in the
mean-time, I also notice part of my original inquiry to Cassie Meyer
was not addressed, particularly the “open house” provision.
I had previously stated, to wit:
“I was also told of a class of sign called “open house signs” that
can be posted off the public right-of-way and which do not require
a permit.”

The Code does not address “open house signs”, and Ms. Meyer made
direct mention of such a sign in one of her communications to another
individual. Can you provide a definition of “open house sign”, per the
code, and the regulations involving the display of such signs? Per Ms.
Meyer, and I am paraphrasing, they may be placed on site and at the
end of the street for the day prior and the day of the Open House.
They do not require a permit, but must be removed after the event is over.
Now, under the City’s legal interpretation of real estate signs, as
you say, “by definition”, this would be an “off premises” sign and
thereby, illegal.

I also find it curious why Ms. Meyer diverted my original inquiry to
you as opposed to answering directly since she is presumed to be a
knowledgeable enforcement officer. If Ms. Meyer is rendering legal
opinions of her own to residents and issuing citations based upon her
interpretation of the code then I would expect her to respond
directly. This is not to say that I find your opinion any less-valid,
but I want to make sure that whatever information I receive is derived
from an authoritative source so as to avoid confusion. Should I
possibly need to speak to corporate counsel on this matter, and to
whom would I address such inquiry?
Thank you in advance. I still await your response.
Thomas Spooner.

Bair finally responded on 1/14/13

Mr. Spooner;

Open House Signs are regulated as Real Estate Signs as they effectively sell real estate. Therefore they fall under the same regulatory guidelines and restrictions (must be placed on the site of the property in question for lease, rent or sale). You inquiry was directed to me as the Director of Community Development as I render the Code interpretations. Ms. Meyer administers the permitting process and does not engage in enforcement and both of those processes are based on Code and my interpretation thereof. Any legal questions should be made to Mr. Steve Giacoletto, Corporate Counsel, whom I have copied on this email.

Thank you
Mitch

Mitchell E. Bair, AICP
Community Development Director
The City of Collinsville
125 South Center Street
Collinsville, IL  62234
Email: mbair@collinsvilleil.org
Voice: 618.346.5200 ext. 120
Cell: 618.301.2568
Fax: 618.343.9192

E-MAIL CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE:  The contents of this e-mail message and any attachments are intended solely for the addressee(s) and may contain confidential and/or legally privileged information. If you are not the intended recipient of this message, or if this message has been addressed to you in error, please immediately alert the sender by reply e-mail and then delete this message and any attachments. If you are not the intended recipient, you are notified that any use, dissemination, distribution, copying, or storage of this message or any attachment is strictly prohibited.

Spooner’s response on 1/15/13 that also went to Cassie Meyer and Corporate Counsel Steve Giacoletto

Mr. Bair,
IF, open house signs are regulated as Real Estate signs, yet they are
not defined in the Code, where does the authority rest for making such
a determination? You had previously stated, “Please be advised that
all signage for real estate offered either for sale, rent or lease
must meet the requirements listed above and shall be located on the
property that is being sold, rented or leased.” Clearly that statement did not
take into account the ad hoc “Open House” provision since you are now
making an allowance for Open House signs which, “effectively sell real
estate” to be placed “off-premises”.

Since, as you say, if a rental sign is not on the premises being
rented it is “by definition” an “off-premises” sign and is prohibited
(your words, not mine). Placing an Open House sign at the end of the
street is no different than placing a for rent sign in a neighbor’s
yard. They are both “off of the premises” in-question, yet you allow
one and not the other?

Off-premises signs are billboards and NOT rental or real estate signs,
or anything else not on a premises. It is a legal term and not
descriptive of a situation.

The code does not define an Open House sign, and are thereby illegal.
Quoting Sec. 17.190.030 A. “General prohibitions. Any graphic or sign
not expressly permitted by this chapter is prohibited in the City of
Collinsville.” Open House signs appear nowhere in the Code and any
decision to “regulate” them must be supported by the Code. Otherwise,
the phrases such as “arbitrary and capricious” and “void for
vagueness” come readily to mind. Perhaps I shall have an “Open House”
for one of my rental properties since it is essentially a Real Estate
sign and although a rental sign in my neighbor’s yard is “considered”,
but not supported by the Code, “off-premises”, the illegal
“off-premises” provision does not apply if I invite the public
directly to view my rental property.

Now, I’ll anticipate your next response by answering, “Open House
signs deal with property for sale and not for rent.” by asking you to
refer to the Code where that distinction is made.

IF you, as you say, are the individual tasked with rendering the
interpretation of the Code then is it you I shall expect to meet in an
adversarial proceeding in Municipal Court following a citation for
violating the Signage regulations? I believe it is the judge who
determines, as they say, “What the law is”. Will you offer testimony
as to the application of the letter-of-the-law to support your
interpretation?

I still have yet to find the code you referenced earlier, “If they are
not placed on the property then they are a commercial sign and fall
under the regulations of Section 17.930.260, “Commercial Zone
Districts.” There is no Section 17.930.260 and the only reference to
Commercial Zone Districts in the signage regulations deals with
Commercial Districts. An “unauthorized off-premises” real estate sign
on residential property does not convert that property to a Commercial
Zone District.

I believe I’ve made a good faith effort to clarify provisions of the
Code which could affect actions I may be taking in the near future. I
have not accepted your application of the Code, or your
interpretation, as I have been provided inconsistencies, inaccuracies,
and opinion unsupported by facts. If yours is simply the official
response for the City’s interpretation of the Code then I am
comfortable proceeding as planned with my understanding of the Code as
a guide.

Thank you again for your time and efforts. I look forward to an
on-point explanation of what has become less-clear than when started.
Maybe Mr. Giacoletto can shed some light on the matter. I expect to
return to the Country within the next few weeks. As I am directing my
proxies to act accordingly, it is important that I, as well as they,
do so under reasonable expectations of how the City may respond with
respect to the Code.
Thomas Spooner

Awaiting a response from either Bair or Giacoletto…

An Analysis of the Collinsville Yard Sale Permit Ordinance

Download this article at Scribd.com http://www.scribd.com/doc/53587936/An-Analysis-of-Yard-Sale-Permit-Ordinances-in-Illinois

This article contains some legal interpretation and analysis. For those who wish to gain a deeper understanding of the issue you are welcome to read the entire article. For the sake of brevity and conciseness I will answer the question of whether or not a permit is required to conduct a yard sale in Collinsville, Illinois. If you are a private individual selling your personal property or items that were not purchased for the purpose of retail sale then you do not need a yard sale permit. You must be involved in a “business” activity of selling “merchandise” advertised as a “yard sale”, “garage sale”, “tag sale”, “basement sale”, or “moving sale”. People selling their property from their yards, garages, basements, or otherwise need not apply for, nor display, the permit.

Even though this article deals with the City of Collinsville’s ordinance I would posit that it applies equally to all municipalities in Illinois since the authority for cities to license is found in Illinois Statutes. In order for a municipality to license this type of activity the statute would have to identify that authority. I would guess that all municipalities who do license yard sales implement language similar to Collinsville.

I received an email from someone who recently moved to Collinsville and was investigating what he was told about needing to procure a yard sale permit. He wished to remain anonymous. He had inquired with the City, using an online form for asking questions. The email forwarded to me read like this:

—————————————————————————————-

Mr. McCoy,

I came upon your website while researching ordinances for Collinsville, Il. You appear to have a bit of history regarding the application of ordinances. I read your piece on the Collinsville Business License Ordinance and thought this may be of some interest to you. I made an inquiry through the City’s FAQ page regarding a yard sale permit. I received the response below. I was curious whether you have studied the yard sale permit provision and the relevance or applicability it has with the Business License Ordinance in general. Thank you for your time. Your website is very informative. While I do not agree with 100% of your conclusions on some things, your analysis and foundation appear to be very well thought out. Thank you for your time.

Your Question:
I was told I needed a permit for a yard sale but the yard sale ordinance comes under the business license ordinance. I am not acting as a business when I sell my personal property. Does the ordinance apply to private men or women who sell their personal property?


Our Solution: (This is the email response from the City)
Thank you for using our system.
The yard sale ordinance has nothing to do with the business license ordinance.  You can obtain a yard sale permit for $2 at the front counter of City Hall (where you pay your water bill).  It can be obtained any time between 8:30 am and 5 pm and it only takes a minute to issue.  You can get it up to the day before your sale starts.  They will give you a copy of the restrictions when you obtain your permit–where you can put your signs, how many sales you are allowed in a year, etc.

Sincerely,

—————————————————————————————-

I want to thank the gentleman for his email as this is something I have studied in the past, but which many people have no interest in learning the truth. For the $2 fee, most would rather trod down to City Hall and get the permit rather than deal with the applicability of the code to their situation. I’m glad this gentleman asked.

To be clear, The Yard Sale Permit has nothing to do with the “Business License Ordinance” as the gentleman stated in his inquiry to the City, and the City was correct in their response to the same question. The yard sale ordinance actually comes under Business License and Regulation. What is commonly referred to as the Business License Ordinance is the Business Registration Ordinance. The Business License Ordinance is what I refused to submit to as working out of my home. That story is here.

So, let’s take a look at the Collinsville Yard Sale Permit Ordinance.

Looking at the City Codes online I see the yard sale ordinance is under Title 5,  which is Business License and Regulations.

It would seem that ordinances under that Title would relate to the Title. “Yard Sales” is under chapter 5.20 under Title 5, which is ” Business Licenses and Regulations”.

Let’s take a look at the first part of Title 5, which applies to all the subtitles as well:

Chapter 5.04
BUSINESS LICENSES GENERALLY*
__________
*State law references:   General authority of city to license, 65 ILCS 5/11-42-1 et seq.
__________

Sec. 5.04.010.  Public policy.
It is the public policy of the City that the public health, safety, morals, interest, convenience, and necessity of the City and the residents thereof require the regulation of businesses and the fixing of a reasonable license fee related thereto.
(Ord. No. 3399, 8-11-2003)

Sec. 5.04.020.  Purpose and jurisdiction.
As each business located in the City is a basic part of and effects the physical and economic well-being of the City, necessitating special services from the City in the form of health inspections and other services, such businesses shall in all respects be in full compliance with the provisions hereinafter contained in this chapter. This chapter is designed to provide for the means whereby the City may render the necessary inspections and services to businesses in order to promote, protect, and safeguard the public safety, health, and welfare of the citizens of the City and to enable the maintenance of an accurate record of businesses located and carrying on commercial activities or commerce within the City. – My question is, what health inspections or other services do yard sales require? Also, looking at the last part of the ordinance you will see “businesses located and carrying on commercial activities or commerce…”  Does that sound like mom, pop, or Joe selling their “stuff”?
(Ord. No. 3399, 8-11-2003)

Sec. 5.04.030.  Definitions.
The following words and phrases as used in this chapter shall have the following meaning, unless a different meaning is required by the context:
Business means any vocation, occupation, profession, enterprise, establishment, concern, or any other type of activity, with the exception of those exemptions as otherwise provided for in this chapter.
Person means any individual, firm, association, sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, trust, or any other legal entity, except for such person as may be organized as an Illinois not-for-profit corporation or governmental bodies properly organized under the law of the State or of the United States of America.
(Ord. No. 3399, 8-11-2003)

Title 5, where the Yard Sale Ordinance is located, states at 5.04, Business Licenses Generally, “*State law references: “General authority of city to license, 65 ILCS 5/11-42-1 et seq.”

If you go to the Illinois Compiled Statutes under that section, you will see, “(65 ILCS 5/11‑42‑5) (from Ch. 24, par. 11‑42‑5) Sec. 11‑42‑5. The corporate authorities of each municipality may license, tax, regulate, or prohibit hawkers, peddlers, pawnbrokers, itinerant merchants, transient vendors of merchandise,…. (Source: P.A. 96‑1516, eff. 2‑4‑11.)

Remember that word, “Merchandise”.  The statute which the City references as its general authority to license does not list private individuals selling their property. The Yard Sale Ordinance embraces “vendors of merchandise.

Likewise, under the Public Policy Statement for Title 5 it states:

Sec. 5.04.010.  Public policy.It is the public policy of the City that the public health, safety, morals, interest, convenience, and necessity of the City and the residents thereof require the regulation of businesses and the fixing of a reasonable license fee related thereto.(Ord. No. 3399, 8-11-2003)”

Again, the word “business” is used to define the purpose of the Title. So, when viewing the Yard Sale Ordinance, it states:

Sec. 5.20.010.  Definition.Yard sale  means any display of merchandise for the purpose of exchanging it for legal tender or barter at a location not otherwise regularly used or specifically designated for the sale or exchange of merchandise. Events commonly known as “garage sales,” “tag sales,” “moving sales,” or “basement sales” shall be included in the definition of a yard sale. (Ord. No. 3909, 6-11-2007)”

Well, it sounds like if you have a “yard sale” you are exchanging merchandise for legal tender, right? Or are you? I would suggest that if a business uses the terms, “yard sale”, or any of the other terms defined in Sec. 5.20.010 then the permit applies to you. Look at it like this; what the ordinance does is prohibit businesses from selling merchandise under the pretense of a “yard sale”.

Nowhere in Title 5 is the word “merchandise” defined. The Title brings Yard Sales under the regulation of “Businesses” with a distinction of selling “merchandise”. So, the Yard Sale Ordinance involves businesses selling merchandise.

So, what is the definition of “merchandise“? The dictionary says, “–noun1.the manufactured goods bought and sold in any business.2.the stock of goods in a store.3.goods, especially manufactured goods; commodities.
Legal dictionaries often use the following definition”MERCHANDISE. By this term is understood all those things which merchants sell either wholesale or retail, as dry goods, hardware, groceries, drugs, &c. It is usually applied to personal chattels only, and to those which are not required for food or immediate support, but such as remain after having been used or which are used only by a slow consumption. Vide Pardess. n. 8; Dig. 13, 3, 1; Id. 19, 4, 1; Id. 50, 16, 66. 8 Pet. 277; 2 Story, R. 16, 53, 54; 6 Wend. 335.

My contention is that my personal property is NOT merchandise. It is personal property. I am not selling it as a business. Merchandise is a commercial term, as is business. When I engage another individual with the intent of exchanging my property for valuable consideration it is nobody’s business, no pun intended. The City has no authority to control such activity. Looking at the language of the ordinance and how it is organized speaks clearly to that fact, if you don’t belabor it with preconceptions and misinformation.

I wanted to address one more thing, under definitions there is the word “person”. Some people capitulate because of that one word. They believe, “If it says person, then that’s me, and I have to get the permit.” Look at it this way, what if you are not a “person”? Sure, you may think you are, but are you the ‘person” defined in Title 5? What does Title 5 say a “person” is?

Let’s look at how the term “person” is  used throughout Title 5.
Sec. 5.04.030.  Definitions. Person  means any individual, firm, association, sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, trust, or any other legal entity, except for such person as may be organized as an Illinois not-for-profit corporation or governmental bodies properly organized under the law of the State or of the United States of America.
(Ord. No. 3399, 8-11-2003)

Sec. 5.06.020.  Definitions. Person means any individual, firm, association, sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, trust, or any other legal entity, including not-for-profit organizations, but excluding governmental bodies properly organized under the law of the State or of the United States of America.

(Ord. No. 3400, 8-11-2003)

Sec. 5.16.010.  Definitions. Person, firm, corporation or association  includes the following: Any person, firm, corporation or association which owns any cigarette vending machines; the person, firm, corporation or association in whose place of business any such machines are placed for use by the public; and the person, firm, corporation or association having control over such machine; provided, however, that the payment of such fee by any person, firm, corporation or association enumerated in this section shall be deemed a compliance with this section.

(Code 1996, § 5.16.010)
Sec. 5.64.020.  Definitions. Person  means any natural person; firm; joint venture, including all participants; partnership, including all partners; association, social club, or fraternal organization, including all officers and directors; corporation, including all officers, directors, and significant stockholders; estate; trust; business trust; receiver; or any other group or combination acting as a unit.
Sec. 5.70.020.  Definitions. Person means any individual, partnership, firm, association, joint stock company, corporation, venture, sole proprietorship, or combination thereof made up of whatever formal or legal character.
Now, there are some subtitles that do not have definitions for the term “person”. In that case the subtitle must use the definition under the main heading at Sec. 5.04.030.  Definitions. However, the Yard Sale Permit Ordinance does not define “person”, thereby forcing us to consult the main heading definition at Sec. 5.04.030.  Definitions. Person is not used as a word, but rather a legal “term”. Once a word has been defined in a piece of legislation it loses its common usage meaning and adopts the definition specified in the legislation.
Let’s look at this definition. It states, “Person  means any individual, firm, association, sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, trust, or any other legal entity, except for such person as may be organized as an Illinois not-for-profit corporation or governmental bodies properly organized under the law of the State or of the United States of America.” If you notice, there things other than people defined as persons. The definition begins with the word “individual”, but you can’t rely upon that as applying to you.
There is a rule of statutory construction called Ejusdem Generis – (eh-youse-dem generous) v adj. Latin for “of the same kind,” used to interpret loosely written statutes. Where a law lists specific classes of persons or things and then refers to them in general, the general statements only apply to the same kind of persons or things specifically listed. Example: if a law refers to automobiles, trucks, tractors, motorcycles and other motor-powered vehicles, “vehicles” would not include airplanes, since the list was of land-based transportation.
This means the classes of things listed must be of the same kind as the others in the definition. So, breaking it apart we see this:
Person  means any individual, firm, association, sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, trust, or any other legal entity, except for such person as may be organized as an Illinois not-for-profit corporation or governmental bodies properly organized under the law of the State or of the United States of America.
Let ‘s see what classified the things in this definition.
Individual – Presumed to be a flesh and blood being, but it must conform to Ejusdem Generis.
Partnership – This is a legal entity.
Firm – This is a legal entity.
Association – This is a legal entity.
Joint Stock Company – This is a legal entity.
Corporation – This is a legal entity.
Trust – This is a legal entity.
Or any other legal entity – This is the giveaway.
The line, “or any other legal entity” means that everything preceding is a legal entity, and not a natural entity. A legal entity exists through an act of law, like other things on the list. To be any of them you must make application to the State. They are all defined, and controlled, by the legislature. The legislature never acquired the power to define private people or their dealings. “Or any other legal entity” thereby shows everything in the definition conforming to Ejusdem Generis since the classification is for “legal entities”. If you believe yourself to be a legal entity and engaged in the business of selling merchandise under the label of a yard sale then you need a yard sale permit. If you are a private individual selling your personal property you need no such permission from anyone.
I hope this clears things up a bit. If you have any questions feel free to use my contact form to reach me.

 

How a non-resident who is not a US citizen can register to vote.

I’m going back a bit to recall this anecdote, but I find it relevant to some discussions I’ve had with people contacting me in regards to my blog posts. I moved to Collinsville, Illinois in 2004. In 2006, there was an election to be held for the office of Governor of the State of Illinois. I decided to run for that office, but also wished to be able to vote (for myself) so I had to go to City Hall and apply for a voter registration card.

The people in the City office were familiar with me for my having challenged the City on its application of the business license ordinance, so the woman at the counter appeared a little agitated at the outset. I told her I wished to register to vote. She produced a small card, approx. 3×5, with small print on one side. She proceeded to ask me my name, address… which seemed odd since she already knew my information from my prior dealings with the City. She then proceeded to administer an oath, reading from the card…

I “state your name”, swear of affirm that I am a citizen of the United States, and a resident of the State of Illinois….

I stopped her and asked, “What exactly is a citizen of the United States?”

She said, “It means American citizen.”

I said, “There is no such thing. Can you tell me the legal definition for US citizen?”

She said, “It means someone living in this country.”

“I disagree, and will not say I am something that someone else is asking me to declare unless I know exactly what they are talking about.”

“Well, you have to take the oath.”

“I’m capable of reading. Let me read it aloud to you and take my own oath.”

I took the card and where I saw the words “US citizen” I drew a line through them and drew a line off to the side and wrote “American”. Where the words “resident” appeared I did the same thing, replacing them with the word “inhabitant”. Where the phrase “State of Illinois” appeared I replaced with “Illinois”. She was not amused. I then proceeded to read the “oath” as I had amended.

She then asked me for some more information on the card.

“What is your social security number?”

“I don’t have one.”

“You have to have a social security number.”

“I disagree, and apparently I don’t have t have one because I am here and just fine, so I am doing well without it.”

“You’ll need one to vote.”

“Well, can you show me a law that required me to possess a social security number?”

“Well, it’s on the card and it’s the law. They would not ask for it if it wasn’t required.”

She then got on the phone and called the St. Clair County Board of Elections. I could only hear one side of the conversation but it went something like this…

“I have a gentleman here who refuses to give me his social for the registration card. Oh…  Oh… Ok. Thank you.”

She then said to me, “They said they’ll accept the last 4 digits of your social.”

I said, “You told me it was a law that you get a social, which is 9 digits. I countered with zero, and your counter offer to me is now 4 digits. It this were a law we would not be negotiating, you would demand all 9, therefore, my final offer to you is zero.”

She wrote “refused” on the line and said, “Fine, I’ll send this in, but you won’t get a card.”

So, she took the card with the oath scratched up and no social. About 4 weeks later, guess what came in the mail? Yes, a voter registration card.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. BS! McCoy is making this up. Well, I went to the Board of Elections to get a copy of that card in preparation for such prudent skepticism. However, after looking for some time the clerk at that office told me, “That’s odd, we can’t seem to find it.”

I asked, “You do keep a copy of these for legal purposes, don’t you?”

“Yes, but we can’t seem to find yours.

Well, there you have it. Of course, I have renounced all my dealings and obligations with government since that time, but it is interesting how they must conform your mind to their will in administering their privileges and benefits. The clerks behind the desks are the first level of tyranny and ignorance. Those in power see to it there is an obstacle to asserting your rights by way of these bumbling bureaucrats. They will not, not, issue the card because there may be litigation whereby testimony would be given to a jury or the media, thereby exposing the deceit. It is better to issue the card and suppress everything else. They can always say, “Well, Mr. McCoy was issued a card and we would have not done so if he had not provided the information required.” So, proof of the card is proof of the compliance. Sorry, in this case, not so much.

The Collinsville, Illinois Business License Ordinance

A few years back, I was confronted by a bureaucrat at City Hall regarding the recently-passed Collinsville Business License Ordinance. This bureaucrat, Dawn Cordle, instructed me to fill out a business license application because my having a number of computers and a fax machine made me a “business”. I proceeded to challenge her ignorance and demand to see the ordinance. My request was denied without my first submitting a Freedom of Information Act request. She refused to show me the “law” which I am supposed to obey. Not a smart thing to do.

I subsequently visited the then-Mayor, Stan Schaeffer, as well as contacting corporate counsel, Steve Giacoletto about this ordinance. I recorded the conversation with Schaeffer wherein he admitted to not knowing the legal particulars of the ordinance, yet he voted for it and signed it into “law”. Giacoletto confirmed during our phone conversation that the ordinance, even though passed into law by the council, is not enforceable upon me or any other “non-legal entity”, meaning people who are not representing a corporate entity.

Subsequent to those conversations, I appeared at a City Council meeting after over 2 years having passed since I refused to procure a business license. During that meeting, I demanded an interpretation on the applicability of the ordinance and if I were so obligated, then the City should arrest, prosecute, and fine me to the tune of over $233,000. A recording of the meeting is here:

City Council Meeting Feb. 27, 2006

The Letter to the Collinsville Herald Where I Discuss the Meeting of Feb. 27, 2006

You can find the Collinsville Ordinances here.

I wrote a letter to the Editor of the Collinsville Herald regarding the meeting encouraging people to watch the recorded version. My letter was as follows:

It began in March, 2004 with a letter from the City of Collinsville insinuating that I was required to have a business license to work out of my home. After exhaustive research, a private meeting with Mayor Schaeffer, a candid phone conversation with Corporate Counsel, Steve Giacoletto,  I determined and declared that the City did not have the authority to pass and enforce such an ordinance, specifically as it applies to people working out of their homes. To-date, I have not procured said license.

Economic Development Director, Paul Mann reminded people to renew their business licenses or to procure a license if they are conducting “business” within the City. The article did not mention who was lawfully required to obtain a license. I know of people who work out of their homes who have applied for a business license, whereas I have not. The difference is, I have read the ordinance, and the state statutes, and have determined that it did not apply to me.

I attempted to clarify the issue. I was allowed a private audience with Mayor Schaeffer. Mayor Schaeffer assured me that he would not hold me accountable to the license ordinance, as I was not considered a “business”, despite what the City previously stated. I posed several legal questions to the Mayor, where he then referred me to Corporate Council, Steve Giacoletto, whom I called. Mr. Giocoletto and I discussed this issue in detail. During that conversation, he told me that the City would not prosecute me for noncompliance with the ordinance, as he also agreed that what I did while working out of my home was not a “business activity”.

Mr. Giacoletto and Mayor Schaeffer were very forthcoming with their information. I took exception to the ordinance; they met or spoke with me, and affirmed that I was not subject to the ordinance. The question is what makes me different from the rest of the workers-from-home? This can be answered by tuning in to Channel 10 tonight at 8:30pm or Thursday morning 12:30 pm and watching the City Council meeting from last Monday, where I again asked the City for clarification on the application of this ordinance. Surprisingly enough, both Mr. Giacoletto and Mayor Schaeffer both affirmed, again, how this ordinance applies to workers-from-home.

What is curious is that the ordinance does not mention anything about home-based businesses. Why then, am I excluded from those having to comply? If it is not because I work from home, then is it the nature of my business? This doesn’t appear to be the case either. The ordinance presumes that anyone who is not already licensed by the State for their occupation is conscripted by the City to abide by their law. There is something more fundamental and profound here as to why I am not considered a business. If it is not the nature of my business or the fact that I work from home, could it be that the law in general is inapplicable? This is a question you all need to consider and pursue. I would suggest contacting your Councilperson and asking them about any duty to comply in light of the statements made at the Council meeting.

When you view the City Council meeting on Channel 10, you will see and hear both the Mayor and Mr. Giocoletto affirm that I am exempt. Although very telling, the statement is somewhat qualified in that it falls just short of total disclosure by not addressing the issue at-large. If I am exempt, why aren’t the rest of you?

Mark McCoy, Collinsville

On the City’s website, there is misleading information about who needs a business license, particularly, those who run a business from their “residence”. It states in-part, “Home Occupations (businesses that are run from your primary residence) are subject to additional restrictions and requirements.” I have to ask, exactly who decides if what you do out of your home is a “business”? If you ask the City Clerk, as I did, you will find they are none the more versed in interpreting legalese than anyone, and probably less-so because their minds are narrower than the space between a fat lady’s thighs. As I was told, because I own computers and a fax machine I was a “business”. You will NEVER have a City bureaucrat turn away your $25 application fee because you mistakenly claimed to be a business. Whether you believe it or not, you have a right to work for a living and engage in activities which pose no threat to the community or individuals, even if done in your home. It is insane to think you need permission from anyone to provide for your own needs or pleasure.

My experience with City Hall bureaucrats and a misapplied business license ordinance

March 24, 2004

Nadia Brahler

City of Collinsville

123 South Center Street

Collinsville, IL 62234

Re: Application for City Business License

Ms. Brahler,

Today I received an Application for a City Business License from the City of Collinsville.  I am addressing this specifically to you because I understand that these licenses are under your purview.  The application I received was not accompanied by any letter, notice, corresponding ordinance as to its applicability, or anything else for that matter, and absent any official city letterhead or duly authorized signature from a corporate authority representative.  Therefore, I am enclosing said application and returning it to you so it not be wasted at a cost to the taxpayers.

I am dismayed as to why the city would capriciously send an unsolicited application to my address.  Is it common practice of the city to send business applications to all residents?  You also erred in addressing the envelope to “Mark McCoy (Internet Web Design)”.  I do not, nor have I ever, gone by the designation of “Internet Web Design”, nor do I have a business incorporated under the name “Internet Web Design”, nor identify myself as doing business as “Internet Web Design”.  The addressing of the letter, if to be viewed in the light of an official communiqué from the municipalities corporate authorities, lacks specificity as to whom the intended recipient of the letter is.  I therefore, as a matter of courtesy, am responding for the non-entity of “Mark McCoy (Internet Web Design) since I am the closest representation of that entity at this address.

To my recollection, I did visit your office on March 23, 2004 and inquire as to the applicability of the city’s business license in certain circumstances.  I also asked to be provided with a copy of the ordinance which empowers the city with the ability to not only license businesses, but to also compel them to register with the city.  I was also refused access to, for viewing, the Municipal Code and City Charter, both of which, in conjunction with lawfully delegated powers from the state legislature, lais the foundation for all powers wielded by the municipality.  I have yet to find any statute or legislation which supports the city’s presumption to license or register all businesses.  Concordantly, your office refused to provide, either for viewing or copying, the ordinance at issue thus necessitating the submission of a Freedom of Information Act request to view that ordinance.

Absent any prima facie evidence of the existence of such an ordinance pursuant to 65 ILCS 5/1-2-5 and 65 ILCS 5/1-2-6, which was not produced upon my request, I can not be compelled to comply with your interpretation of the ordinance’s applicability in my circumstance.  I can only be compelled to comply with lawful ordinances that I myself have read.  No offense but, I prefer not to subject myself to the jurisdiction of the city predicated upon heresy.  As in the application of Dillon’s Rule, a canon of strict construction for municipalities when attempting to validate ordinances, the lesson is that any reasonable doubt as to the power or authority of a municipality is to be resolved against it.  Your office failed to provide me with the requested statutory authority for this ordinance on which I base my reasonable doubt as to its lawfulness.

During our chat you proceeded to ask me some probing questions of such a nature so as to lend perception to the construct of a business enterprise.  Merely owning computers, fax machines or other business-like paraphernalia does not constitute a business, the legal definition which is still in dispute absent production of the applicable ordinance and supporting state statutes.  If your erroneous proffer of a business license is predicated upon the possession of certain personal property then you may want to submit a number of license applications so as to provide for my mechanic’s business which is evidenced by the possession of various wrenches and tools; my cleaning business which is evidenced by mops, brooms and rags; and my bakery which is evidenced by my possession of a stove and various ingredients with which to make delectable pastries.

I will respectfully ask you to save the enclosed license for someone to whom it lawfully applies or who unwittingly wishes to controvert their right to make a living.  In the mean-time I will refrain from further comment or discussion on the matter until I have had time to review the ordinance in question in further detail.

Thank you for your time.

Respectfully,

Mark McCoy

Cc:

Mayor Stan Schaeffer via post and email

Councilman Fred Dalton via post

Councilman Rick Rehg via post and email

Councilwoman Joy Springer via post

Councilman Jim Pulley via post and email

City Manager Henry Sinda via post and email

Follow-up Article to Collinsville Herald

Listen here to a recording between myself and Mayor Stan Schaeffer over the Business License Ordinance. Mr. Schaeffer has since expired.

Blast from the Past: Herald Op-Ed where they promote the ordinance back in 2006 and Nancy Moss  and John Miller are quoted as being against it.


Tagged , ,

The Aim to Repeal Home Rule for Collinsville

Petitions (St. Clair County Version and Madison County Version) – See relevant part of Illinois Election Code at bottom of this post. (10 ILCS 5/28‑7)

Petition for Referendum to Repeal Home Rule for Collinsville Madison County Version

Petition for Referendum to Repeal Home Rule for Collinsville St. Clair County Version

The people of Collinsville just recently avoided a draconian Occupancy Permit Ordinance and Crime Free Ordinance thanks to the combined efforts of local activists and concerned citizens. This issue is not over by any stretchy of the imagination. The proponents of this ordinance are regrouping and crafting a new ordinance as I type. They are taking all of the input from the dissenters and massaging the legalese to work on fears and prejudices of the masses. Related Story Here.

The timing of this move is no accident. Collinsville achieved home rule status pursuant to the Illinois Constitution by way of a special census just within the past few years. One of the speakers at the City Council Meeting, Dennis Hillege, even admitted that he has been striving for this objective for some 15 years. Mr. Hillege serves on the planning board. What has kept them at bay for this time has been the lack of authority to pass such an ordinance. Thanks to the still fresh home rule powers, the impetus to push this agenda has been realized.

I have to wonder if the people of Collinsville want to relive the stress and effort of waging a war consisting of deceit, misinformation, and propaganda when they are out-manned and out-spent at the outset? This was but one victory in a potentially long war. Taking the lessons of recent events to heart, I believe it is time to strike at the root and repeal the home rule status of Collinsville.

The City functioned just fine with powers bestowed by the Illinois Legislature. There are no special urban needs or circumstances peculiar to Collinsville as with other municipalities. Collinsville is surrounded by other home rule municipalities who are none the better for their expanded powers. Belleville has a crime problem and much blight. Business has moved out and the area looks tired. Home rule does little to enhance the life of the inhabitants but does much for the taxing and regulatory powers. Any increase in governmental power usually results in an increased benefit to the oligarchs and not to the people.

This article will be modified regularly over the coming days so check back regularly. More information on how to put a referendum to the voters for repealing home rule will be posted as well as unbiased information on the pros and cons of home rule. I am not anti-home rule, but I am anti-unresponsive and prejudicial government. This occupancy and crime free ordinance was but a taste of what kind of irresponsible power would possibly await the people should the City retain a great amount of power. Collinsville is not suffering, crime ridden, blighted, or otherwise hobbled. With citizen-driven civic pride and responsibility, the power can be kept out of the hands of the oligarchs and the money in the pockets of the people.

I also wonder if it may not be time to reconsider the organization of the City’s government, or should I say the citizen’s government. I am including information relating to such below. Collinsville presently functions under a managerial form of government.

More to come………….

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs5.asp?ActID=802&ChapterID=14

(65 ILCS 5/1‑1‑8) (from Ch. 24, par. 1‑1‑8)
Sec. 1‑1‑8. Whenever this Code requires or authorizes the submission of a proposition or question to referendum, whether initiated by action of the corporate authorities or by petition, upon such initiation, the proposition or question shall be certified, in accordance with the general election law, to the proper county clerks and boards of election commissioners. Those election authorities shall submit the proposition or question to the voters of the municipality, or to the voters of such other territory as are entitled to vote thereon, at an election in accordance with the general election law. Whenever this Code requires referendum approval by the voters of any ordinance adopted by a municipality, and no specific procedure is provided for initiating the referendum, the referendum shall be initiated by the passage of such ordinance and shall be certified for the next regular election in accordance with the general election law.
Whenever this Code requires or authorizes a special election to be held for the purpose of filling a vacancy in office, the office and the candidates therefor shall be similarly certified, in accordance with the general election law.
Municipal clerks and clerks of the circuit court shall perform all election duties, including certifications and publication of notices, in connection with the conduct of elections of officers and referenda on the submission of questions or propositions to referendum as provided in the general election law.
(Source: P.A. 81‑1489.)
(65 ILCS 5/1‑1‑9) (from Ch. 24, par. 1‑1‑9)
Sec. 1‑1‑9. If a municipality which is a home rule unit under Section 6 of Article VII of the Constitution by reason of having a population of more than 25,000 suffers a loss in population so that its population determined as provided in Section 1‑7‑2 is 25,000 or less, such municipality shall continue to have the powers of a home rule unit until it elects by referendum not to be a home rule unit.
Unless such a referendum is held sooner, or such a referendum has been held within the 2 calendar years preceding the year in which the population is determined to be 25,000 or less, the municipal clerk shall certify for submission to the voters of the municipality at the next general election following such determination of population, in the manner provided by the general election law, the proposition of whether the municipality shall elect not to be a home rule unit.
(Source: P.A. 82‑94.)\

Information on various forms of government in Illinois

Aldermanic-City Form
Under the aldermanic-city form, the legislative body ordinarily consists of two aldermen from each ward elected for a four-year term. Their terms are staggered so that half are elected every two years. The number of aldermen elected depends upon the population of the city. The mayor is the chief executive officer of the municipality. The mayor, city clerk, and city treasurer are elected at large (Village or citywide) to a four-year term. Other offices and vacancies are filled by appointment by the mayor with the advice and consent of the council, although it may be provided by ordinance that these offices be filled by election.

Trustee-Village Form
Under the trustee-village form, the legislative body consists of six trustees, generally elected from the village at large. The number of trustees does not vary with the size of the municipality. Villages of over 25,000 population may have each of the six trustees elected by district instead of from the village.

The village president and clerk are elected at large, but the village treasurer is appointed. The term of the president, trustees, and clerk is four years, unless reduced to two years by referendum. As with the mayor in the aldermanic-city form, the appointments to all nonelective offices are made by the president with the advice and consent of the board of trustees. If the village collector is appointed, the village board may provide by ordinance that the elected village clerk also hold the office of village collector.

Commission Form
The commission form of government is limited to cities or villages under 200,000 population. Under this form, the voters elect at large a mayor and four commissioners who serve as the council. At the first regular meeting after an election, the council designates each member to be either the commissioner of accounts and finances, public health and safety, streets and public improvements, or public property. The mayor serves as commissioner of public affairs. The council may elect the clerk and treasurer, as well as all the other officers whose appointment is not delegated, as it may be, to one commissioner. Each commissioner is given executive control over such administrative departments as may be assigned to him. By referendum, the electors may provide for the election of commissioners to specific departments.

Manager Form
The manager form of government is available to all municipalities under 500,000 in population. The municipality may retain its governmental structure as an aldermanic-city form, trustee-village form, or commission form while adopting the features of the manager form.

Under this form, the power of the council or board is purely legislative, except that it is empowered to approve all expenses and liabilities of the municipality. The manager is the administrative and executive head of the government for some purposes. The manager appoints and removes all officers not required to be elected. The appointment to most boards, commissions, and other municipal agencies resides in the mayor or president subject to council or board confirmation.

Strong Mayor Form
This form of government has an elected mayor, clerk, and treasurer and, depending upon the size of the community, from eight to twenty aldermen elected from wards. The terms of elected officials are four years. The functions of an ordinary mayor are generally merged with the powers accorded a municipal manager. The mayor is given the power, without council approval, to appoint and remove his administrative assistants, budget and finance director, heads of all departments, and all other officers of the municipality, and members of commissions, boards, and agencies, except those covered by civil service. The powers of the council are purely legislative.

Administrative Form
This “form” of government is not specifically sanctioned by statute but is in use in a number of municipalities. It may be used in all but the manager form of government. It is not really a “form” of government but rather a legislative device adopted by municipalities which seek a full-time administrator without the permanency of the manager form of government. Under this system, a municipality creates by ordinance the office or employment of “administrator” and endows such an office or employment with certain administrative powers. The administrator may be made the administrative head of all departments and may be given any power not specifically granted to another person by statute. The administrator may be appointed for a term or hired by contract, or his employment may be for an unspecified period. In any case, he may be removed like any other officer or employee subject to the payment of any valid remaining portion of his contract. This system of government allows for a full-time administrator to conduct the day-to-day operations of a community armed with as much or as little power as the corporate authorities may from time to time provide by ordinance.

A good resource and discussion on Home Rule is Illinois Local Government – A Handbook (Read the section on Illinois Home Rule: Page 225)

Brochure: Home Rule and You

(10 ILCS 5/28‑7) (from Ch. 46, par. 28‑7)
Sec. 28‑7. In any case in which Article VII or paragraph (a) of Section 5 of the Transition Schedule of the Constitution authorizes any action to be taken by or with respect to any unit of local government, as defined in Section 1 of Article VII of the Constitution, by or subject to approval by referendum, any such public question shall be initiated in accordance with this Section.
Any such public question may be initiated by the governing body of the unit of local government by resolution or by the filing with the clerk or secretary of the governmental unit of a petition signed by a number of qualified electors equal to or greater than 10% of the number of registered voters in the governmental unit, requesting the submission of the proposal for such action to the voters of the governmental unit at a regular election.
If the action to be taken requires a referendum involving 2 or more units of local government, the proposal shall be submitted to the voters of such governmental units by the election authorities with jurisdiction over the territory of the governmental units. Such multi‑unit proposals may be initiated by appropriate resolutions by the respective governing bodies or by petitions of the voters of the several governmental units filed with the respective clerks or secretaries.
This Section is intended to provide a method of submission to referendum in all cases of proposals for actions which are authorized by Article VII of the Constitution by or subject to approval by referendum and supersedes any conflicting statutory provisions except those contained in the “County Executive Act”.
Referenda provided for in this Section may not be held more than once in any 23‑month period on the same proposition, provided that in any municipality a referendum to elect not to be a home rule unit may be held only once within any 47‑month period.
(Source: P.A. 82‑750.)

Collinsville Perceives Self-Defense to be a Threat of Violence

On January 3, 2008, the City of Collinsville, Illinois received my Declaration, as evidenced by the return receipt for certified mail. Below is the FOIA request I submitted to Collinsville.

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT REQUEST MADE TO CITY OF COLLINSVILLE

REQUEST FOR RECORDS PURSUANT TO THE ILLINOIS FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 5 ILCS 140/1 ET. SEQ.
Date: March 8, 2009
Requestor’s Name: Mark McCoy
Requestor’s Address: Collinsville, Illinois
Requestor’s Phone Number: ***-***-****
Request Made to: City of Collinsville, Illinois
Request made for: Certified paper copies and CD Rom/Electronic format, if available.
Records to be: Picked up at City Hall upon fulfillment


Specific Public Records Requested:

Pursuant to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act , 5 ILCS 140/1 to 140/11, I write to request access to and a copy of the following. Any public record, as defined in 5 ILCS 140 et.seq. including but not limited to the following:

Any information, email, records, memos, letters, communications, created, received, or possessed by the City of Collinsville, its employees, officers, or agents relating to Mark McCoy.

Any information, email, records, memos, letters, communications created, received, or possessed by the City of Collinsville, its employees, officers, or agents concerning the website markmccoy.com

Any information, email, records, memos, letters, communications created, received, or possessed by the City of Collinsville, its employees, officers, or agents concerning a Public Declaration of Sovereignty, Expatriation, and Dissolution of all Previous National and Political Allegiance, signed by Mark McCoy, and which was filed with the St. Clair County Recorder of Deeds on Jan. 4, 2008, and which bears the Letter Number A02084317, and received by the City of Collinsville on 1/3/08.

I agree to pay any reasonable copying and postage fees. Please provide a receipt indicating the charges for each document.

As provided by The Freedom of Information Act, I will expect your response within seven (7) working days.

If you choose to deny this request, please provide a written explanation for the denial including a reference to the specific statutory exemption(s) upon which you rely. Also, please provide all portions of otherwise exempt material.

Please be advised that I am prepared to pursue whatever legal remedy necessary to obtain access to the requested records. I would note that willful violation of the open records law can result in the award of reasonable attorney’ fees.

Thank you for your assistance.

Sincerely,
Mark McCoy
Collinsville, Illinois

Today, March 24, 2009, I received my FOIA response from the City of Collinsville. The response consists of only one page. That page is a memo from then Mayor, Stan Schaeffer who refers to my Declaration at Paragraph 4 of Page 2, to wit:

“I reserve MY natural right to exercise any and all means of self-defense with any and all weapons or devices at my disposal against any and all aggressors that may result in harm or death to Myself or others who may assail me.”

In the eyes of Stan Schaeffer, that constitutes a “threat of violence”.  Mr. Schaeffer also refers to the “Kirkwood incident” where a disgruntled citizen killed several people at City Hall; associating me with a violent killer.

Here is the FOIA reply I received. In my opinion, the response is incomplete. There were three other people copied on this memo in conjunction with the City Council. I cannot believe that out of all those people this was the only document generated as a result of my Declaration and the inference of a “threat of violence”. I will need to file an appeal for an incomplete response, and quite possibly a lawsuit for violations of the Freedom of Information Act. More to come…….