By BRETT McNEIL
Lawyers representing the Village of Oak Brook on Wednesday filed suit seeking to halt the installation and operation of red-light cameras near the Oakbrook Center shopping mall at Route 83 and 22nd Street. The lawsuit may be the first of its kind in Illinois — one neighboring community suing the other to halt the installation of red-light cameras — and it underscores significant disagreement between local officials in DuPage County about the purpose and legal justifications for red-light cameras in the state.
“Defendants’ determination to install and operate RLC cameras at the intersection is an unreasonable exercise of police powers and a violation of state law,” lawyers for Oak Brook wrote in their complaint against the installation by Oakbrook Terrace.
The suit also alleges Oakbrook Terrace officials voted to install red-light cameras in the busy intersection “unfairly and irrationally based not upon a serious traffic problem or a significant number of accidents but rather efforts by the Defendant City of Oakbrook Terrace to increase its revenue.”
The Oakbrook Terrace cameras, approved late last year by officials at the Illinois Department of Transportation, would be operated by SafeSpeed LLC, the same privately held Chicago company that controls six red-light cameras on Harlem Avenue between North Avenue and Cermak Road.
A Wednesday Journal series recently documented SafeSpeed cameras along that four-mile stretch of Harlem have issued more than $26 million in citations since 2014. The Wednesday Journal investigation also found SafeSpeed cameras in the Oak Park area are likely among the most lucrative in the state, far surpassing even the most prolific Chicago red-light cameras in ticket issuance. SafeSpeed maintains red-light camera contracts locally with River Forest, North Riverside and Berwyn.
River Forest Village President Cathy Adduci, whose community has two red-light cameras, said she’d never seen a lawsuit like the one filed by Oak Brook.
“On its surface it seems like a fairly odd suit and something that I can’t imagine succeeding,” she said, noting that the two municipalities have different jurisdictions.
“(Oakbrook Terrace has) all the rights of a municipal government to enact what they feel would be in the best interest of their residents and public safety,” she said.
The Oak Brook lawsuit refers to the vendor contract SafeSpeed allegedly maintains with Oakbrook Terrace as “an unnecessary tax and … an improper and unconscionable use of public funds.” The suit alleges SafeSpeed stands to receive about 40 percent of all ticket revenues. The company has similar contracts in River Forest, North Riverside and Berwyn.
The Oak Brook lawsuit was filed in DuPage County and seeks a court-ordered injunction to halt the operation of two cameras on the west side of Route 83 at 22nd Street. The lawsuit names numerous defendants, including the village of Oakbrook Terrace and its elected officials; SafeSpeed LLC; and company President Nikki M. Zollar. SafeSpeed sister company Triad Consulting is also named as a defendant.
Timothy Inklebarger contributed to this article.