Did you know you can dig a huge hole in Lincoln Park without a permit?

That’s just one of the revelations that came out of Friday’s opening hearing in the lawsuit filed by the Committee to Keep Lincoln Park Public, a group of north-side residents looking to keep the Latin School from building a soccer field just east of the zoo.

The residents say there are many reasons to oppose the soccer field deal the Park District struck with Latin back in October 2006. But on Friday they asked Cook County Circuit Court judge Dorothy Kirie Kinnaird to issue a temporary restraining order to block further construction on the grounds that the Park District never got a building permit to construct the field.

When the judge asked why, a lawyer for the Park District explained, “The city takes the position that whatever they are doing here now is OK. In the future they will file for a permit.”

I assume this means that once they get around to installing artificial turf and bleachers, they’ll seek a permit–though Judge Kinnaird moved on to other issues without asking the lawyer to get more specific.

Keep in mind we’re not talking about some minor addition to a back porch. Construction on the field has been under way since last October–they’ve created a divot about the size of a football field. They’ve fenced it off and begun installing drainage pipes. The project’s consumed a fairly significant chunk of Lincoln Park.

I understand how the city would think a permit is just a formality–something only the little people have to worry about–on a project approved by Mayor Daley. Still, shouldn’t they follow the law just, you know, to keep up appearances?

Thomas Ramsdell, the lead lawyer for the residents, also said that the Park District hasn’t taken the project before the Chicago Plan Commission, whose approval is supposedly needed before any construction along the lakefront can begin. Oops.

I was really eager to hear the lawyers argue their way out of this one, but Judge Kinnaird cut off discussion in the interest of time before issuing any rulings.

No big deal–they’ll all be back in Judge Kinnaird’s chambers Wednesday at 11 AM. That gives the lawyers a couple of days to come up with some sort of response to Ramsdell’s charge about the plan commission. I can’t wait to hear how they worm their way out of this one.