Illinois community bankers are trying to reverse a state regulatory decision allowing a Texas savings bank to open a branch on Chicago's North Shore.

The state's thrift regulator, the commissioner of savings and residential finance, last month approved Dallas-based Beal Bank's application to open a branch in the suburban community of Winnetka.

But the Community Bankers Association of Illinois protested the application, claiming that only federally chartered institutions could enter the state on a de novo basis. Moreover, they are arguing that existing Illinois banks would be hurt if $1.2 billion Beal Bank were allowed to enter the state.

However the thrift commissioner, Jack Schaffer, said the Illinois code allows state-chartered savings banks to enter the state through a new branch. It has been done before, he added, though not very often.

"The bottom line is: The law is very clear," Mr. Schaffer said. "Every bit of advice I got was that Beal Bank had this right."

The Community Bankers are awaiting the commissioner's verdict on its request for a hearing to review his decision, said director of government relations David Manning.

If the commissioner does not grant a hearing, the group's board could vote to pursue the issue in circuit court, he said.

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