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Goffinet v. County of Christian

AUGUST 5, 1975.




APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Christian County; the Hon. ROBERT SANDERS, Judge, presiding.


This appeal is concerned with the validity of a conditional rezoning ordinance adopted by the County Board of Christian County.

A judgment of the circuit court of Christian County denied plaintiffs' relief upon their complaint for a declaratory judgment that a zoning order of the Christian County Board was invalid. The zoning ordinance in question rezoned 236 acres of farmland in a rural section of Christian County from AG-1 (agricultural) to I-2 (heavy industrial). Plaintiffs are owners of land adjoining the property in question and they appeal.

Pursuant to a plan prepared by a consulting firm, Christian County adopted a comprehensive zoning ordinance in 1964. The plan was updated in 1970. Under the plan the 236-acre farm involved here was zoned AG-1. On February 13, 1973, the Christian County Board adopted an ordinance rezoning the land I-2. The rezoning ordinance was adopted upon the petition of Harry Griswold, the fee owner, and Illinois NapGas Company, the option purchaser. The purpose of the rezoning was to permit defendant, Illinois NapGas Company, to construct a plant where synthetic gas would be produced. Defendant, Illinois NapGas, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Trunkline Gas Company. Trunkline is a wholly owned subsidiary of defendant Panhandle Eastern Pipeline Company. The gas produced in the plant would be sold by Illinois NapGas to Trunkline for distribution.

Plaintiffs do not urge any special damages but maintain that the February 13, 1973, rezoning ordinance is void for the reason that it contains unauthorized restrictions and hence constitutes conditional rezoning and also because the ordinance constitutes "spot zoning." These are the issues with which we are confronted.

The disputed ordinance contains four articles. Article I-Finding of Facts and Article II-Enacting Provisions are pertinent here. The County Board finds and states in Article I (in relevant parts):

"Section 6. That the best use of the land is for the uses of I-2 heavy industrial to permit the storage of naptha, petroleum products, and similar hydrocarbon products, and the processing of the same into pipe line quality gas suitable for distributor, utility, and industrial purposes.

Section 7. That permitting the foregoing I-2 heavy industrial use of the premises will not adversely affect the use of any of the neighboring land and will have no detriment on the value of the neighboring and adjoining tracts of land.

Section 8. That there now exists in Christian County, Illinois, and the surrounding area a shortage of natural gas, substitute natural gas, and synthetic natural gas, resulting in a gas crisis affecting residents of Christian County, Illinois.

Section 9. That many of the necessary service facilities, industrial facilities, and business facilities, such as St. Vincent's Memorial Hospital of Taylorville, Illinois, Taylorville Co-op Heating Association, farm elevators and individual farm dryers using natural gas for drying purposes, and many of the larger industrial facilities in the county, are presently on interruptable natural gas service by Central Illinois Public Service Company.

Section 10. That the present and projected shortage of natural gas supplies available for use in Christian County is and will require many persons in Christian County, Illinois, to find alternative sources of energy in lieu of natural gas, and the alternative sources of energy are at this time more expensive and limited in availability.

Section 11. That the public health, safety and welfare of Christian County, Illinois, will be promoted by permitting the construction of the proposed facility by Illinois NapGas Company in an effort to eliminate the present natural gas shortage.

Section 12. That the best interest of Christian County will be served by permitting the rezoning and variance requested in the Petition for the following additional grounds:

(a) The proposed facility would tend to increase the supply of natural gas necessary for farm drying operations in Christian County, Illinois.

(b) The proposed facility will increase the assessed valuation in the county and therefore, either (1) lower the overall tax rate on each tract of land in the county, or ...

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