Appeal from the Circuit Court of Sangamon County; the Hon.
SAMUEL O. SMITH, Judge, presiding. The judgment of the Circuit
Court of Sangamon County is affirmed.
In 1930, the City of Springfield acquired a large area of land located in part of each of three Sangamon County Townships (Ball, Rochester and Woodside) and commenced the construction thereon of an artificial lake known as Lake Springfield, for the creation of a system of waterworks and water supply. As the lake developed, the City laid out the marginal shorelands owned by it adjacent to the lake, into areas and tracts of land and began leasing such tracts for a term of sixty (60) years to plaintiffs or their predecessors and assignors. No diagrams or plats of the areas, or tracts or roadways of the lands adjacent to the lake have been filed as statutory plats in the Office of the Recorder of Deeds of Sangamon County, nor have any of the roads ever been conveyed by the City. The standard lease between the City and its shoreland lessees contains the following pertinent provisions:
"1. THIS LEASE, made this . . . day of . . ., 19 . ., by CITY OF SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS, hereinafter called `City', to . . . hereinafter called `Custodian', WITNESSETH, That:"
"3. NOW THEREFORE, in furtherance and in aid of said public purposes, the City does hereby lease to the Custodian that part of said marginal land described as:
of Lake Lands in Section . . . in . . . Township . . . in Sangamon County, Illinois, as shown by unrecorded plat thereof in the office of the Department of Public Property of the City; which Tract includes a lot of the same number hereinafter mentioned; together with means of access thereto over other land of the City, along such route as the City may from time to time provide;"
"PREPAYMENT OPTION. . . . The rent remaining after the exercise of said option is not subject to prepayment but must run throughout the entire term of the lease, continued revenue from the leased premises being deemed essential to best promote the mutual interests of the Custodian and the City in the supervision, care, maintenance, beautification and improvement of the shoreland surrounding said lake."
"7. GENERAL REGULATIONS. The Custodian will keep all of the leased premises in sanitary condition, decent, neat, and free from noxious weeds and debris, and will maintain all improvements, thereon attractive in appearance and in good repair, . . ."
The lessees thereafter improved the tracts leased to them by the construction of residential dwellings thereon. The City maintained until February 1, 1961, thirty-five (35) roadways varying in width from ten feet (10') to twenty feet (20'), upon marginal shorelands owned by it outside its corporate limits which have been used by lessees and by the general public since their construction. The roadways are not legally described in any plat of the City, as to their locations, width and length. The land occupied by the roadways is not enclosed by fences. The City, up to February 1, 1961, placed road signs on, removed snow from, cindered in the wintertime, cut weeds, policed, graded, oiled, applied rock and asphalt, placed culverts under and ditched along the edges of these roads, using City equipment and employees for the work and maintenance of the roads involved.
All of said roadways were laid out and constructed by the City except the city-owned road servicing North Shore area which was laid out and constructed by the County of Sangamon. They were of earth base topped with liquid asphalt and gravel. All, except Caravan Lane, have been in existence and use for at least fifteen (15) years prior to February 1, 1961, and during all this time no barriers, obstructions or prohibition of use thereof to vehicular traffic have been erected by the City or by anyone else and there has been common enjoyment and use of all these roads, except Caravan Lane, for over 15 years. None of the roadways joins or intersects with another but each of them leads to or from a county or township highway. Twenty-seven (27) of the roads enter and exit at the same entrance. These terminate in a cul de sac or at a residence; in some cases, at a private garage door.
Lessees have been assessed and have paid road and bridge taxes to the respective Townships in which their leaseholds are located upon the value of those leaseholds. The respective Highway Commissioners have not included the mileage of these roads in computation for motor fuel tax, nor is there any evidence of the Highway Commissioners having ever done anything toward the maintenance of the roads.
Thirty-five (35) of the lessees, each of whom maintained valuable residences and other improvements on their respective leased tracts, to each of which there is no other roadway leading in or out, filed their complaint for a declaratory judgment against the City, John H. Hunter its Commissioner of Public Property, the respective Townships and their respective Highway Commissioners. They asked that the court declare the duties of the plaintiffs, defendant City and defendant John H. Hunter as Commissioner of Public Property of the City, as to the providing and maintenance of the roads, estoppel of said defendants from refusing to repair and maintain and that the City has the duty to provide, keep and maintain the roads in a reasonable state of repair, and said defendants failure to do so. The complaint further prayed for injunctive relief against the City and the City Commissioner from failing to maintain the roads, and direction to maintain the roads in a reasonably safe condition and in a reasonable state of repair.
Four counts of the complaint prayed for similar declarations and injunctive relief against the three Townships and their respective Highway Commissioners. These four counts were dismissed on motion, by a ruling from which there is no appeal before us.
The City and City Commissioner denied any duty on their part to provide maintenance and repair of the roads and denied that plaintiffs were entitled to the relief requested; they also alleged affirmative defenses to each of the counts against them, and filed counter-claims against the three Townships and their respective Highway Commissioners, praying for declaratory judgments against the Townships and their Highway Commissioners as to the maintenance and repair of the roads. The Townships and their ...