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Wescom, Inc. v. Woodridge Park Dist.





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Du Page County; the Hon. EDWIN L. DOUGLAS, Judge, presiding.


Plaintiffs appeal from orders of the trial court denying their motions to vacate an order calling an annexation election and to enjoin the holding of such election and further appeal from the order declaring and certifying the results of that election.

Two issues are determinative of this appeal:

(1) whether the territory sought to be annexed adjoins defendant park district; and

(2) whether an election should have been held in the annexed territory.

On April 13, 1976, the Board of Park Commissioners of defendant, Woodridge Park District, Du Page County, Illinois, adopted an ordinance expressing its desire to annex certain territory to the district pursuant to sections 3-2 and 3-3 of the Park District Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 105, pars. 3-2 and 3-3) and authorized the filing of a petition in circuit court for that purpose.

The petition was filed on April 20, 1976, and, without notice to any of the owners of the land sought to be annexed (none being required by the Park District Code) on May 5, 1976, the trial court entered an order finding that the territory adjoined the district, that no legal voters resided therein and called an election to be held only in the district on the question of whether the territory should be annexed to the district. The court set the date of the election for June 1, 1976, and prohibited further registration of voters in either the territory or the district prior to the election.

Plaintiffs, who are owners or residents of approximately 72 acres of the territory sought to be annexed and alleged to be used for industrial, agricultural and residential purposes, filed their motions to enjoin the holding of the election and to vacate the May 5 order calling it. The verified motions alleged that the territory did not adjoin the district, as required by the statute, and that plaintiff, William J. Murphy, was a legal voter residing in the territory on May 5, 1976, thus requiring that the election also be held in that territory.

After notice to Woodridge, a hearing was held on these matters on May 28 wherein the parties stipulated that Murphy had been a legal voter since April 28, 1976. The court considered the pleadings and exhibits appended and denied both motions. The election was held as scheduled without allowing any voters in the territory to participate. The voters of the district by a substantial margin approved the annexation and thus included the plaintiffs as a part of the Woodridge Park District.

An examination of a map or plat is the best approach to the first contention of plaintiffs in this case. The ordinance adopted by defendant and its petition to the court to call the election described the territory sought to be annexed by metes and bounds, but did not include a plat to aid the trial court in visualizing the physical relationship between the park district and the territory it sought to annex. Plaintiffs' motion did include a plat, as follows:

As may be seen, Woodridge has no common boundary with plaintiffs' land but does connect to it by means of a corridor or strip of right-of-way owned by Northern Illinois Gas Company. This strip has a common boundary with Woodridge at one end for 120.5 feet then extends perpendicularly east for one-half mile (2640 feet) to a similar connection with plaintiffs' land before reaching out and around plaintiffs' 72 acres.

Section 3-2 of the Park District Act permits annexation of territory "adjoining" a district. In considering questions of disputed annexations to municipal bodies, the courts> have generally held adjoining to be synonymous with contiguous, both terms meaning a touching or adjoining in a reasonably substantial physical sense, and found that the line of demarcation between reasonableness and unreasonableness of the contiguity must be drawn from the facts of each case. Western National Bank v. Village of Kildeer (1960), 19 Ill.2d 342, 352, 167 N.E.2d 169, 175; In re Annexation to the Village of South Barrington (1972), 7 Ill. App.3d 958, 963, 289 N.E.2d 1, 5.

This court in In re Annexation to the Village of Buffalo Grove (1970), 128 Ill. App.2d 261, 261 N.E. 746, carefully reviewed the decisions construing contiguity and noted that the courts> have considered the width of the connection, or common boundary, of annexed territory to the annexing municipality and the length of the projection beyond the municipal boundaries in determining whether the test of contiguity had been met. The court there upheld an annexation where the connecting strip of land between the village and the land of the objectors shared a common boundary with the village for a length of 675 feet and was 300 feet in width extending some 1312.5 feet to the objectors' land. Buffalo Grove appears to be the reported annexation case with dimensions closest to those in the instant case and those dimensions demonstrated a reasonably substantial physical adjoining of the village and the annexed territory.

• 1 We do not believe the test has been met here. In People ex rel. Adamowski v. Village of Streamwood (1959), 15 Ill.2d 595, 601, 155 N.E.2d 635, 638, the supreme court defined "contiguous" to mean adjacent to and parallel to existing municipal limits, noting that strip or corridor annexations have always been condemned by the courts> and never been permitted by the legislature. Village of Streamwood and the many cases following it were primarily concerned with street or highway annexations (People ex rel. Coojar Realty Corp. v. Village of Burr Ridge (1967), 81 Ill. App.2d 203, 225 N.E.2d 39), and it has been said that such cases apply only to such annexations. (In re Annexation to the Village of South Barrington (1972), 7 Ill. App.3d 958, 963, 289 N.E.2d 1, 5. But see In re Annexation to the Village of Plainfield (1975), 25 Ill. App.3d 1026, 1031, 323 N.E.2d 841, 844.) Certainly, cases dealing with privately owned tracts on the one hand, and streets or highways on the other, are the more precise precedent where those categories are ...

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