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Village of Swansea v. County of St. Clair





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County; the Hon. DAVID W. COSTELLO, Judge, presiding.


Plaintiff Village of Swansea appeals from an order of the circuit court of St. Clair County denying its requested injunctive and declaratory relief. The plaintiff had sought an injunction against the defendant, County of St. Clair, to prevent the building and construction of a dog pound within the village of Swansea and a declaratory judgment that the county must comply with plaintiff's zoning, building, sewer, electrical and plumbing ordinances.

St. Clair County, in which the village of Swansea is located, owns approximately 25 acres of land within the boundaries of the village of Swansea. Prior to the events giving rise to this suit, the village of Swansea enacted, pursuant to statutory authority, various ordinances to regulate such governmental functions as zoning, sewer service, building, plumbing and electrical installations. In 1975, St. Clair County determined by vote to build a dog pound on its property within the village of Swansea, and a contract for such work was entered into with Erlinger Construction Company. However, after the county maintained that its construction did not have to comply with any of plaintiff's ordinances the instant suit was filed.

The proposed dog pound is to occupy approximately 1.6 acres and to contain a 4,260 square foot concrete block building with 40 dog kennels, offices, storage, a euthanasia chamber, waiting rooms, examination rooms and a garage for trucks. Dogs from all over the county would be brought to the facility in two trucks. If the dogs remained unclaimed, they would be killed in a gas chamber at the pound and then transported from the facility. The county proposes to build and staff the facility in conformance with the Animal Control Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 8, par. 351 et seq.).

The primary focus of the arguments in this case has concerned the Supreme Court decision in City of Des Plaines v. Metropolitan Sanitary District, 48 Ill.2d 11, 268 N.E.2d 428. In Des Plaines the city brought a declaratory judgment action against the sanitary district in which the city sought to require the sanitary district to apply for and secure a special use permit from the city before the sanitary district could use the property it owned, located within the city limits, for water reclamation purposes. Relying on Heft v. Zoning Board of Appeals, 31 Ill.2d 266, 201 N.E.2d 364, the trial court and the appellate court held that the sanitary district was required to abide by and conform to the zoning regulations of the city and therefore was required to secure a special use permit. The supreme court reversed on the basis that the sanitary district was acting pursuant to statutory authority:

"Section 8 of the Chicago Sanitary District Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1967, ch. 42, par. 327) provides that the sanitary district may acquire `* * * by condemnation within its corporate limits, any and all real and personal property, right of way and privilege that may be required for its corporate purposes.' The statute clearly authorized the taking of the property in question in the City of Des Plaines. To find that the condemnation power of the district is subject to the restrictions of local municipal zoning ordinances would be to relegate the authority of the district to that of a private land owner, and would thereby frustrate the purpose of the statute. If the district is exercising power within the statutory grant, such exercise is not subject to zoning restrictions imposed by the host municipality. However, as stated by the court in Schiller Park `* * * as is the case with other aspects of the eminent domain power, the courts will afford protection against any abuse thereof.' (26 Ill.2d at 282.) Injunctive relief would be available where an exercise of power exceeds the statutory grant. Here it is not contended that there has been an abuse of power." 48 Ill.2d 11, 14.

In this case the county is acting pursuant to the statutory mandate of the Animal Control Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 8, par. 351 et seq.). The purpose of the Act is stated in its title which reads as follows:

"AN ACT relating to stray animal control; rabies prevention; dogs pursuing, chasing, worrying, wounding, or killing domestic animals or poultry; the liability of a person owning or harboring a dog which attacks or injures a person; providing penalties for violations thereof; and to repeal Acts therein named."

This act mandates each county to carry out its separate provisions. For example, section 3 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 8, par. 353) provides:

"The County Board shall appoint, as Administrator, a veterinarian licensed by the State of Illinois. Such appointments shall be made as necessary to keep this position filled at all times. The Administrator may appoint as many Deputy Administrators and Animal Control Wardens to aid him as authorized by the Board. The compensation for the Administrator, Deputy Administrators, and Animal Control Wardens shall be fixed by the Board for services other than for the rabies inoculation of dogs or other animals. The Administrator, Deputy Administrators, and Animal Control Wardens may be removed from office by the Board for cause.

The Board shall provide necessary personnel, equipment, supplies, and facilities, and shall operate pounds or contract for their operation as necessary to effectuate the program. The Board may enter into contracts or agreements with persons to assist in the operation of the program.

The Board shall be empowered to utilize monies from their General Corporate Fund to effectuate the intent of this Act.

The Board is authorized to require the registration of dogs and to impose a registration fee not to ...

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