Does a Village's Sign Code and Sign Ordinance Unconstitutionally Infringe a Company's Right to Erect a Billboard ?

In Universal Outdoor, Inc. v. Elk Grove Village, 969 F. Supp. 1125 (N.D. Ill. 1997), Universal erected a billboard on a parcel that was later annexed by Elk Grove Village (the village). In 1985, the village enacted a sign ordinance barring billboards, but the village granted Universal a 12-year variance from the ordinance. When the variance expired in 1997, Universal filed a section 1983 claim in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, alleging that the village's sign code and sign ordinance unconstitutionally infringed Universal's right to a permanent variance. The district court granted the village's motion to dismiss the complaint as untimely, emphasizing that, if the sign code and sign ordinance were unconstitutional on the date the complaint was filed, they were equally unconstitutional when enacted more than 12 years earlier. Universal Outdoor, 969 F. Supp. at 1126. The Universal Outdoor court did not specify which statute of limitations applied, but it is clear that the two-year limitations period applied to Universal's section 1983 claim. See, e.g., McGee, 326 Ill. App. 3d at 352. Because Universal's section 1983 claim ripened in 1985, the limitations period expired in 1987, several years before Universal filed its complaint. Universal Outdoor, 969 F. Supp. at 1128.