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Aurora clinic hearing to be continued
Zoning board to hear case on Dec. 12
By Amy Boerema | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 11/29/2007 12:19 AM

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It could be awhile before a hearing on the Planned Parenthood clinic gets under way with the city of Aurora's zoning board of appeals.

On Wednesday, the seven-member panel agreed to continue its meeting to Dec. 12 to give city leaders time to produce requested documents.

The controversial clinic opened on Aurora's far east side in October, after an independent review found no legal basis for denying it an occupancy permit.

The city had launched the review in response to criticism that Planned Parenthood misrepresented itself in building applications. It applied as Gemini Office Development, a subsidiary.

After the center opened, some opponents and Fox Valley Families Against Planned Parenthood filed an appeal, arguing the clinic did not receive the proper approvals from the city.

They said it did not obtain a required special-use permit and therefore shouldn't be allowed to operate.

In response, the city's corporation counsel, Alayne Weingartz, filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing the zoning board doesn't have the jurisdiction to handle the appeal.

The zoning board on Wednesday saw what may have been its biggest crowd ever, with abortion opponents filling council chambers.

Attorneys representing opponents had just filed a motion seeking more information from the city. Despite numerous requests, they said, the city had not given them copies of requested documents.

When an attorney tried to review records at city hall, they said, he was told by employees they were under strict orders not to give him any.

City leaders have been cooperative with providing records, spokesman Carie Anne Ergo said.

But the city is involved with another ongoing lawsuit related to Planned Parenthood and they need to ensure documents go through the proper channels, she said. The city will review the latest request, she said.

Both sides then will meet at 7 p.m. Dec. 12 at city hall. If opponents are satisfied with the additional information the city provides, the zoning board next will tackle Weingartz's request to dismiss or transfer the matter.

The city's corporation counsel argues the time has expired for an appeal to be brought before the zoning board, so it lacks jurisdiction over the issue and should be dismissed.

The proper entity to hear the matter would be the building code board of appeals, she argues, because it deals with permit issues.

Pro-Life Action League spokesman Eric Scheidler said the zoning appeals board appears to be taking their case seriously and he's confident his group will receive a fair hearing.

"I knew it would be a long process," he said.