Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County, Nineteenth
Judicial Circuit; the Hon. L. ERIC CAREY, Judge, presiding.
Reversed and remanded with directions.
MR. JUSTICE SEIDENFELD DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.
Petitioners appeal from a trial court judgment which dismissed their petition seeking to annex their property to the Village of Buffalo Grove. The court below found that there was a lack of contiguity under the applicable statute. (Ill Rev Stats 1967, c 24, §§ 7-1-2, 7-1-3, and 7-1-4.)
The territory sought to be annexed is characterized as "L" shaped.
The large rectangle represents petitioners' land; the smaller rectangle measured south to the village limits cuts through a cultivated portion of the objectors' 64 acre farm, with about one-third of the farm being to the west and two-thirds to the east. The owners of that portion of the adjacent property which, for a length of 675 feet and with a width of 300 feet, share a common boundary with the village, are not objecting.
The objections relied upon in the trial court were that the land annexed was not contiguous, and also that petitioners could not include only the small portion of the property owned by the objectors to make a connection. The trial court, in a memorandum opinion, found:
"that on the facts of this case, the Village and the land to be annexed do not `adjoin one another in a reasonably substantial physical sense.' When a piece of land approximately 3.3 million square feet in area is sought to be annexed to a village and the only common border is a 675-foot strip, the requisite substantiality of physical contact cannot be said to exist, in our opinion."
Petitioners have argued that the territory sought to be annexed clearly touches or adjoins the village in a reasonably substantial physical sense, and that no more is required in compliance with the statutes.
Objectors argue that the finding of the trial court of the lack of physical contiguity must be sustained because it is not against the manifest weight of the evidence; and additionally, objectors argue that a proper analysis of the annexation statute considering its purpose, and an analysis of the cases which have interpreted it, require that there be a unity of purpose and facilities as well as a physical contact to comprise "contiguity."
[1-5] Certain general principles have been settled by the cases which have defined the term "contiguity" as used in the statute. "Contiguity" is satisfied by a touching or adjoining in a reasonably substantial physical sense; however, the line of demarcation between the reasonableness or unreasonableness of a contiguity must be drawn on the facts of each case. Western Nat. Bank of Cicero v. Village of Kildeer, 19 Ill.2d 342, 352, 167 N.E.2d 169 (1960). The finding of the trial court as to contiguity or lack of it will not be disturbed on appeal unless it is manifestly against the weight of the evidence. LaSalle Nat. Bank v. Village of Burr Ridge, 81 Ill. App.2d 209, 217, 218, 225 N.E.2d 33 (1967). Irregularity of the resulting boundaries in itself is not a fatal defect in determining contiguity to a village. Western Nat. Bank of Cicero v. Village of Kildeer, supra, at page 351. "Contiguity" is to be given a uniform liberal construction throughout the annexation statute. In re Petition of Flossmoor v. Mutual Nat. Bank of Chicago, 23 Ill. App.2d 440, 445, 163 N.E.2d 215 (1960); and In re Annexation to City of Loves Park, 89 Ill. App.2d 284, 232 N.E.2d 144 (Abst, 1967); and contiguity has the same meaning under the disconnection statutes as under the annexation statutes. Wolbach v. Village of Flossmoor, 329 Ill. App. 528, 531, 69 N.E.2d 704 (1946); LaSalle Nat. Bank v. Village of Burr Ridge, supra, at pages 217, 218; LaSalle Nat. Bank v. Village of Willowbrook, 40 Ill. App.2d 359, 360, 189 N.E.2d 690 (1963).
The trial court properly noted that it was not basing the decision on the reasonableness of the annexation or the irregularity in the shape of the territory to be annexed. However, we can find no authority for the general position taken that lack of contiguity may be based on the disproportion between the size and volume of the directly adjoining and connecting area which comprises a common boundary with a municipality, and the size and volume of petitioner's tract which he seeks to annex.
Numerous decisions construing contiguity do not approach the definition with any such comparison between the size and volume of connecting tracts. They do, however, appear to have considered the width of the connection and the length of its projection beyond preannexation boundaries of municipalities. Additionally, the repeated statements in the authorities that each case is to be determined upon its particular facts obviously does not mean that the discretion of the trial court in determining what is contiguous in any case must be considered final and not subject to review. We must refer to the cases to find the limits of judicial review of a trial court's determination of what is contiguous and what may not be.
In Wild v. The People ex rel. Stephens, 227 Ill. 556, 81 N.E. 704 (1907), relied upon principally by objectors and by the trial court, the court held that where the territory sought to be incorporated involved a central area from which eight tentacles of land of different lengths and widths extended in various directions, there was no contiguity. One of the strips was 310 feet in width extending east and west some half mile and cornering with another strip 200 feet in width east and west, which extended south one-half mile and then intersected another tract of land 2,000 feet in length by 200 feet in width. The court noted that a person could not pass from one strip to the other without passing over land not within the village. Another strip of land 570 feet wide extended south from the main body of the territory almost a mile, and from the south 50 feet thereof a strip of land 50 feet wide extended west a half mile where it intersected the east line of a parcel of land 1,000 feet long and 550 feet wide. It was held that the tract of land which cornered was not contiguous and that the use of the 50 foot strip of land to connect the tract with other territory in the village was a mere subterfuge and was not in compliance with the law.
In Spaulding School Dist. No. 58 v. Waukegan, 18 Ill.2d 526, 529, 165 N.E.2d 283 (1960), the court noted that "the intent of the legislature, as expressed in the word `contiguous,' is that the territory to be annexed must have a substantial common boundary."
We have found that no contiguity exists when a common boundary of one foot in one instance, and 83 feet in another sought to include "V" shaped configurations for a distance of 660 feet and 1377 feet, respectively; but have considered that contiguity did exist with reference to that part sought to be annexed which had a common boundary for a distance of 400 feet. People ex rel. Nash v. City of Loves Park, 59 Ill. App.2d 297, 207 N.E.2d 490 (Abst, 1965). Recently we have held that where land to be annexed touched the annexing city for a distance of only 20 feet there was not a substantial common boundary between the land annexed and the annexing city and, therefore, there was no contiguity. People ex rel. Cherry Valley Fire Protection Dist. v. City of Rockford, 120 Ill. App.2d 275, 286, 256 N.E.2d ...