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Shoreline Builders Co. v. City of Park Ridge

APRIL 27, 1965.

SHORELINE BUILDERS COMPANY, AN ILLINOIS CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

CITY OF PARK RIDGE, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION AND PARK RIDGE PARK DISTRICT, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION, DEFENDANT-APPELLANTS.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. THOMAS E. KLUCZYNSKI, Judge, presiding. Decree reversed and cause remanded with directions.

MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE BURKE DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.

Rehearing denied May 18, 1965.

This is an appeal from a decree quieting title of plaintiff to a parcel of real estate situated in the City of Park Ridge, Illinois.

In 1947, Smith and Hill, Inc., caused a plat of subdivision, hereinafter referred to as "plat of 1947," to be filed for record with the Recorder of Deeds of Cook County, the subdivision being legally described as:

Smith and Hill's Park Ridge Manor Unit No. 2, being a subdivision of the South 1/2 of the Northeast 1/4 and the Southeast 1/4 of the Northwest 1/4 (except the West 217 feet measured on the North and South lines thereof) of Section 22, Township 41 North, Range 12, East of the Third Principal Meridian, in Cook County, Illinois.

The westerly 149.96 feet of the east 183 feet of the subdivision (the eastern-most 33.04 feet thereof having been dedicated for street purposes) was designated on the plat as "PUBLIC PLAYGROUND." That portion so designated, hereinafter referred to as "playground," is the subject of this action. The plat of 1947 also included 296 lots, numbered 1 through 296, both inclusive, with various streets, and a public walkway between two of the lots leading to the playground.

At the time of the recording of the plat of 1947, all of the land included therein was within the Maine Park District, which was subsequently merged into the defendant Park Ridge Park District in 1954, the latter succeeding to the former's rights and obligations. None of the land was within the City of Park Ridge at the time of the recording. The plat was submitted to and approved by the County Board of Cook County, the Mayor and the City Council of the City of Des Plaines prior to its recordation with the Recorder of Cook County. The playground portion was removed from the county tax rolls and has not since been the subject of taxation.

In 1949, after only a few of the lots in the subdivision were sold, Smith and Hill, Inc., went into bankruptcy, and all of the remaining land in the subdivision was sold by the Trustee in Bankruptcy to plaintiff's predecessor in title.

In November of 1955 plaintiff and four other parties executed and filed with the City of Park Ridge a petition for the annexation to the city of the playground and a certain area to the north thereof, which petition stated that the signers were the owners of the land therein described. Later that month the City Council of Park Ridge passed an ordinance annexing said land to the City of Park Ridge in accordance with the petition. The balance of the subdivision was not then, nor has it since been, annexed to the City of Park Ridge.

In February of 1959 the commissioners of the Park Ridge Park District requested its attorney to take such steps as would be necessary to clear title to the playground in the park district. On September 8, 1959, however, the City of Park Ridge passed an ordinance accepting the dedication of the playground.

Plaintiff filed its complaint to quiet title to the playground on July 31, 1959, joining as defendants certain individual subdivision lot owners and the two appellants herein. The complaint alleged that plaintiff has title to the playground; that the designation "PUBLIC PLAYGROUND" on the plat of 1947 was a mere offer to dedicate; and the offer to dedicate was withdrawn before any municipality accepted it. It was further alleged that 97% of the subdivision lot owners had signed an agreement consenting to the vacation of the playground by plaintiff from the plat of 1947.

The City of Park Ridge and the Park Ridge Park District answered the complaint, denying plaintiff has title to the playground, denying the dedication could be revoked, and denying the subdivision lot owners could invalidate the dedication by agreement without the consent of the municipality.

The park district further answered that, because no municipality was in existence at the time of the recording of the plat of 1947 which was capable of taking title to the playground pursuant to section 3 of the Plat Act (Ill Rev Stats 1947, c 109, par 3,) the park district ought to have title by application to the cy pres doctrine, since it was the most logical municipal corporation to acquire, use and operate the playground.

The matter was referred to a master in chancery for the taking of evidence and a report thereon. After all of the evidence was in and the proofs closed, plaintiff obtained leave to file a supplemental and amended complaint, alleging the balance of the subdivision lot owners had, since the filing of the original complaint, signed the agreement consenting to the vacation of the playground and further, because of this unanimous consent, the City of Park Ridge was required by the Plat Act to approve the deed of vacation of the playground, all questions of whether the plat of 1947 was a "statutory" plat or a "common law" plat, whether the offer to dedicate was ever accepted by any municipality, and so forth, having thereby become moot. On September 29, 1961, plaintiff presented ...


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