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Peo. Ex Rel. County of St. Clair v. Belleville





Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Fifth District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County, the Hon. Delmar Koebel, Judge, presiding.


This is a quo warrantor action brought by the People, upon the relation of the County of St. Clair, a township, a road district, and two fire-protection districts, to determine the validity of four annexation ordinances adopted by the city council of the defendant, the city of Belleville. After a bench trial, the circuit court of St. Clair county held the ordinances were valid. The appellate court affirmed (81 Ill. App.3d 379), and we granted leave to appeal. 73 Ill.2d R. 315.

A complete statement of facts appears in the appellate court opinion. (81 Ill. App.3d 379.) A brief summary will suffice here.

A petition for annexation of territory was filed with the city clerk on September 16, 1976, by the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad Company. The next day a copy of a proposed annexation agreement between the city and the Catholic Diocese, owner of a 90-acre parcel, was filed. Members of the Schaumleffel family filed a second petition on September 20, 1976. A petition for annexation of the diocese property was filed on September 30, 1976.

The four ordinances were adopted by the city council on October 7, 1976, and approved by the mayor the next day. The first ordinance, No. 3390, purported to annex the Illinois Central Railroad right-of-way which adjoins the south border of the city of Belleville for 1,350 feet, according to the plaintiff, and 1,158 feet according to the defendant. The annexed portion of the right-of-way which projects beyond the city's border continues in a northwesterly direction for roughly 1,800 feet beyond the southwesterly border of the city, but still parallel to that border, until it reaches South 74th Street, a north-south street.

The second ordinance, No. 3391, was designed to annex a small piece of property referred to as the Schaumleffel property. This property lies between the railroad right-of-way and Illinois State Route 13. It is 25 feet wide and extends from a line parallel to the west boundary of the city limits but 100 feet south of the limits, nearly to South 74th Street. The third ordinance, No. 3392, adopted the annexation agreement between the city and the Catholic Diocese of Belleville, as owner of three tracts totaling 90 acres. It is the annexation of this property which was the subject of the fourth ordinance, No. 3393. The following map, though not drawn to scale, is instructive:

With the annexation of the Schaumleffel property, the portion of Highway 13 adjacent to it was annexed by operation of law. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 24, par. 7-1-1.

At trial, two expert witnesses testified. Richard E. Weinel, a registered land surveyor and engineer, testified that in his opinion the city's map of the annexed territory is inaccurate in several places. The city's witness, John Thompson, also a registered engineer and surveyor, agreed that there are errors in the map, but he stated that he was not hired to survey the property, only to draw a map from existing legal descriptions.

The People contend that the annexation ordinances are invalid because: notice was not given to two fire-protection-district trustees; the city's map is inaccurate; the territory annexed is not contiguous to the city of Belleville; and the territories were not contiguous at the time the petitions for annexation were filed with the city clerk.

We agree with the People that the notice given was insufficient. Section 7-1-1 of the Illinois Municipal Code provides in part:

"Any territory which is not within the corporate limits of any municipality but which is contiguous to a municipality, may be annexed thereto as provided in this Article.

When any land proposed to be annexed is part of any Fire Protection District or of any Public Library District, and the annexing municipality provides fire protection or a public library, as the case may be, the Trustees of each District shall be notified in writing by certified or registered mail or by personal service, before any court hearing or other action is taken for annexation. Such notice shall be served 10 days in advance. An affidavit that service of notice has been had as provided by this Section must be filed with the clerk of the court in which such annexation proceedings are pending or will be instituted or, when no court proceedings are involved, with the recorder of deeds for the county where such land is situated. No annexation of such land is effective as to territory within any Fire Protection District or Public Library District unless service is had and the affidavit filed as provided in this section." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 24, par. 7-1-1.

In this case, the record is unclear, but it appears that the city clerk attempted to serve notices to the three trustees of both the Signal Hill Fire Protection District and the Villa Hills Fire Protection District, which served the areas sought to be annexed. One trustee of each district, however, had been replaced. The notices were delivered to the former trustees, rather than the two new trustees. The trial and appellate courts> decided that the notice which was given was valid nonetheless since ...

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