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Probe shows nothing illegal
By Amy Boerema | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 10/2/2007 12:32 AM

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Aurora's outside review of Planned Parenthood's permit process -- all three parts of it -- shows the clinic did nothing illegal.

City leaders issued the far east side center an occupancy permit Monday, after releasing the results of that review.

Aldermen launched their probe after opponents claimed the clinic deceived the city by applying under the name of its subsidiary, Gemini Development.

Mayor Tom Weisner first tapped Chicago attorney Richard Martens to do the review.

Though some aldermen later raised concerns with him because of potential conflict of interest issues, Martens was told to finish his job.

He said he believes Gemini failed to provide consistent information to the city about its tenant, but that's not a sufficient basis for revoking an occupancy permit.

Phillip Luetkehans, of Itasca firm Schirott & Luetkehans, agreed. He was the second attorney directed to do the investigation, after concerns with Martens were raised.

He said he believes Gemini knew from the start abortions would be performed at the center and misrepresented that fact in permit applications, his report states.

However, he said, its failure to identify the tenant or elaborate on facility use is "likely insufficient to provide a reasonable basis for denying the occupancy permit."

Neither the plan commission nor the council asked about the services to be offered, he said.

"We could not find any section in the ordinance requiring an application to state the name of the end-user," he wrote.

Many opponents have claimed Planned Parenthood, as a nonprofit health-related facility, needed a special use permit to operate.

Luetkehans addresses this, saying it's "not defined anywhere in the zoning ordinance … and any ambiguity in zoning ordinances must be found in favor of the applicant."

Conflict of interest issues also were later raised with Luetkehans, though he, too, was able to finish his report.

The mayor asked Kane County State's Attorney John Barsanti to review both reports. Barsanti found no criminal action in the clinic's process.

He didn't weigh in on city ordinances, land use or zoning, "matters of which I have no authority or jurisdiction," he said in a release.

The full reports from both attorneys can be found at www.aurora-il.org/clinic_information.asp