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City of East St. Louis v. Touchette

OPINION FILED JUNE 20, 1958.

THE CITY OF EAST ST. LOUIS, APPELLEE,

v.

FRANCIS TOUCHETTE ET AL., APPELLANTS.



APPEAL from the County Court of St. Clair County, the Hon. WILLIAM P. FLEMING, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE BRISTOW DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Francis Touchette and the city of Centreville, of St. Clair County, appeal directly to this court from an order of the county court of St. Clair County finding that a certain annexation ordinance of the city of East St. Louis was valid and conformed to section 7-1 et seq. of the Revised Cities and Villages Act, (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1957, chap. 24, par. 7-1 et seq.) describing the territory annexed to East St. Louis, and directing that the question of annexation be submitted to the corporate authorities of the annexing municipality of East St. Louis.

Objectors-appellants contend that this court has jurisdiction on direct appeal because the franchise of the city of Centreville to continued existence is involved. Such conclusion is based on the contention that the territory proposed to be annexed will sever the corporate limits of the city of Centreville and destroy its contiguity.

Reversal of the county court is urged for the reason that territory lying in the city of Centreville cannot be annexed to the city of East St. Louis after a petition for organization of the city of Centreville has been filed, and also for the reason that the city of East St. Louis did not comply with the statutory conditions required.

The city of East St. Louis contends that this court lacks jurisdiction because a franchise is not involved and also urges that neither objector is an interested party within the statutory meaning of section 7-3 of the Revised Cities and Villages Act, and that no competent evidence was produced by either objector that the statute was not fully complied with.

From the record it appears that on September 4, 1957, the city of East St. Louis adopted an ordinance requesting annexation of certain described territory containing 1,125 acres to the city and requesting the county judge of St. Clair County to submit the question of annexation to the corporate authorities of the city of East St. Louis after having set a hearing thereon. Such ordinance was filed in the county court of St. Clair County on September 10, 1957, at which time the court entered an order setting a hearing thereon for October 1, 1957, all legal notices of such hearing to issue. The record contains no evidence of any notice of any nature of such hearing. On September 24, 1957, appellants filed objections to such proceedings, alleging eighteen reasons why the proceedings and ordinance were null and void. A hearing was held November 1, 1957, and on November 8, 1957, the order appealed from was entered.

At the hearing only one witness was heard and two exhibits were received in evidence. Francis Touchette, the sole witness, testified that he was and is interested in the incorporation of the city of Centreville; that exhibit 1 was a plat representing the city of Centreville; that exhibit 2 was a plat of the area attempted to be annexed; that Grand Marias State Park was a portion of the area attempted to be annexed; that a portion of the city of Centreville was in the area attempted to be annexed; that the area east, south and west of the area attempted to be annexed is not subdivided into lots or blocks but is farm land; that houses are located in the area attempted to be annexed in which lived certain named persons (not including witness); that the territory attempted to be annexed is more than 60 acres and is not completely surrounded by any municipality; that witness voted on the incorporation of the city of Centreville in September, 1957, and it carried three to one; that he is the person who filed the petition for the city of Centreville; that at such time no election was held; that at the time witness was a resident of the city of Centreville; that objections were filed prior to the referendum on the incorporation of the city of Centreville; that he filed the objection for the city of Centreville and was representing it.

Counsel for the city of East St. Louis was called to testify by objectors to prove no publication of notice of hearing, but his objection to testifying was sustained by the court.

Exhibits 1 and 2 were admitted in evidence over objection, the court stating they were part of the records of the court.

Appellants statement of facts recites many details as to certain proceedings concerning the organization of the city of Centreville. These allegations indicated the filing in county court on August 30, 1957, of a petition for incorporation; an order for and an election on September 23, 1957, and canvass thereof on September 24, 1957; an election pursuant to the county court order on November 4, 1957, for city officials, and issuance of certificate of incorporation by the Secretary of State on December 30, 1957.

From the order of the county court admitting exhibits 1 and 2 in evidence as part of the records of the court it is apparent that the county court took judicial notice of the petition for incorporation of the city of Centreville previously filed in the court. Furthermore, courts are required to take judicial notice of the existence of all villages and cities organized under the Revised Cities and Villages Act. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1957, chap. 24, par. 4-1; People ex rel. Wellman v. Washburn, 410 Ill. 322; Village of Catlin v. Tilton, 281 Ill. 601.

From the exhibits in evidence and the testimony of objector Touchette it affirmatively appears that the proposed annexation of the territory in question to the city of East St. Louis would destroy the contiguity of and dissect the territory of the city of Centreville as proposed in the petition filed in the county court prior to the institution of the annexation proceedings. A decision sustaining the annexation proceedings would have the practical effect of destroying the legal prerequisites to the continued existence of the city of Centreville as a municipal corporation and therefore it would appear that a franchise is involved so as to give this court jurisdiction on appeal. People ex rel. Simpson v. Funkhouser, 385 Ill. 396.

It is further contended that neither of the objectors-appellants have any standing to bring this appeal or to contest the annexation ordinance because they are not a party in interest as contemplated by the statute in question. Section 7-3 of the Revised Cities and Villages Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1957, chap. 24, par. 7-3) makes provision for the filing of objections to a petition for annexation and spells out "any interested person" may file with the county clerk his objections. No decisions have been called to our attention and none have been found in which has been determined the extent of interest required to entitle a person to object to an annexation proceeding. Said section 7-3 spells out that such person may file with the county clerk his objections (1) that the territory described in the ordinance is not contiguous to the annexed municipality; (2) that the petition is not signed by the requisite number of electors or property owners; (3) that the description of the territory contained in the ordinance is inadequate; and (4) that the objector's land is located on the perimeter of the territory, that he does not desire annexation, and that the exclusion of his land will not destroy contiguity. Among other matters, the city of East St. Louis argues that none of the objectors' objections fall within any of the above four classifications and therefore that they have no standing.

It is fundamental, however, that to determine the legislative intent embodied in a statute the entire statute must be considered. Sections 7-1 to 7-6.1 inclusive, of the Revised Cities and Villages Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1957, chap. 24, pars. 7-1 to 7-6.1, inclusive,) constitute the entire statute concerning annexation of territory to municipalities. Section 7-4, providing for hearing upon the petition or ordinance, clearly contemplates the hearing of evidence on the validity of the petition or ordinance by the court. We conclude from a reading of the entire statute that it contemplates the filing of objections to the petition or ordinance for any matter going to the validity thereof by any interested person, as well as for the four specific objections set forth in section 7-3. We are of the opinion that the evidence in this case establishing that appellant Touchette filed the petition for incorporation of the city of Centreville, that he resides in the territory ...


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