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City of Chicago v. Elmhurst Nat. Bank

APRIL 25, 1962.

CITY OF CHICAGO, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

ELMHURST NATIONAL BANK, AS TRUSTEE UNDER TRUST NO. 717, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Municipal Court of Chicago; the Hon. WALTER J. KOWALSKI, Judge, presiding. Affirmed.

MR. JUSTICE DEMPSEY DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.

The Elmhurst National Bank, as trustee, owns, operates and controls two buildings on one lot at 1346 West Walton Street, Chicago. The three-story brick building on the front of the lot and the two-story frame building on the back of the lot have two apartments on each floor. One count of the City's two-count complaint charged that the "defendant failed to provide an additional direct means of vertical egress" for the three rear apartments of the brick building, in violation of the city's building Code. The second count made the same charge in reference to the first floor rear apartment and the two second floor apartments of the frame building. The defendant was found guilty and fined $50.00 on each count.

The trial judge certified that the validity of a municipal ordinance was involved and that the public interest required a direct appeal to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court found the issue concerned the construction and application of the ordinance rather than its validity and transferred the case to this court. City of Chicago v. Elmhurst Nat. Bank, 22 Ill.2d 206, 174 N.E.2d 799.

The ordinance is as follows:

"78-5.1(a) In existing buildings where exits do not comply with the requirements of chapter 67 and in which hazardous conditions exist because of the number, width, construction or location of exits, the commissioner of buildings may order additional exits to assure adequate safety of the occupants.

"(b) Every existing building shall have not less than the minimum number of required exits as prescribed in section 67-4."

The defendant's principal contentions are: (1) the buildings in question were constructed many years before the adoption of the ordinance in 1949 and are what the ordinance describes as "preordinance buildings," therefore, they do not come under section 78-5.1, which pertains to "existing buildings"; (2) the defendant was charged in both counts with violating section 78-5.1, but no evidence was produced of any infraction of the provisions of subsection (a) and, therefore, the City's proof was deficient; (3) subsection (b) refers to the number of required exits "as prescribed in section 67-4," but the City failed to prove the buildings do not come within the exceptions enumerated in section 67-4, and (4) the City offered no proof that there were no other vertical exits available to the apartments such as ladders, ropes, ramps, slide poles, fire escapes, escalators, and the like. We shall consider these contentions in the order named.

(1) The words "existing" and "preordinance" appear at the start of chapter 78:

"Chapter 78. Existing Buildings

General Provisions

78.1 Every existing building, structure or part thereof, as herein defined, shall comply with the requirements of this chapter.

Definitions

78.2 (a) Existing Building. A building structure or part thereof which has been completed and ready for occupancy.

(b) Pre-Ordinance Building. Every existing building, structure or part thereof which was completed, or for the construction of which a permit was issued prior ...


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