Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County, Sixteenth
Judicial Circuit; the Hon. JOHN A. KRAUSE, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE SEIDENFELD DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.
Rehearing denied December 23, 1969.
Plaintiffs, Raymond O. Hedrich and Catherine M. Hedrich, appeal from a judgment order dismissing their suit for declaratory judgment entered after trial before the court below. The action had been brought to test the constitutionality of the zoning ordinance of Kane County, Illinois, defendant, as applied to plaintiffs' property.
The dispute involves a 100-foot strip of land (zoned F District-Farming) which was purchased by the plaintiffs in 1950 as part of a total 10-acre tract which included an existing trailer court on the main portion (zoned B-5 Business).
Plaintiffs filed application for rezoning of the 100-foot strip to extend the trailer park use, in 1953, in 1954, and in 1956. On each occasion the Kane County Zoning Board of Appeals recommended denial and the County Board denied the application.
In 1957 plaintiffs fully developed trailer spaces on the strip and it was occupied with 18 trailers which plaintiffs rented. In 1966 the County filed a complaint against plaintiffs charging violation of a zoning ordinance, and after being served, plaintiffs initiated this suit.
There was testimony by plaintiffs' witnesses that there were 18 trailer spaces on the 100-foot strip and 110 trailer spaces on the balance of their property. Several of the four homes in the block on the south side of Sherman Avenue, which abuts the subject property, were built after the main trailer court was in operation; and one residence was built subsequent to the use of the 100-foot strip as an extension of the trailer court. The remaining three sides of the original 10-acre tract are bounded by streets developed with residences. The homes vary in price from $15,000 to $35,000.
An owner, whose home was on the corner across the street and adjacent to the 100-foot strip, testified that he had built his home at a time when the subject property was an open field with a gravel pit on a part of it. At that time the main trailer court was already in existence although it has been much improved over the years. The 100-foot strip has been filled in and improved. He testified that his home had not depreciated in value; that at various times there were sales of homes facing the main trailer court and none remained vacant at any time. He said that the strip had been fenced in after the pit had been filled and that there was grass and shrubbery, all of which were well kept, and part is being used as a playground.
An expert witness for the plaintiffs testified that the 100-foot strip would be worth $90,000 as an extension of the mobile home park as against $1,500 for farming purposes. This was based on $45 per month gross rental per trailer space for 18 spaces, capitalized at 10 years, as against no practical farming use. The witness further testified that the surrounding property would show no depreciation by reason of the presence of the 18 additional trailers on the subject property.
The plaintiffs admitted knowledge of the existing zoning prior to their purchase.
There was evidence that the zoning ordinance under the F-Farming classification would permit 5 single-family residences on the strip or 2 two-family dwellings.
The defendant's expert testified that the trailer use on the subject strip would depreciate the homes across the street by approximately 5%.
A land planning expert testified for the County that the density of use is the crux of the creating of buffer zones between two different types of uses, and that the highest and best use of the subject property would be for buffering purposes between the high density trailer court and the much lower density area beyond, with the highest and best use for the subject property being for two-family residences.
The final judgment order denying the relief sought by plaintiffs contained these findings ...