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South Stickney Park Dist. v. Bedford Park

OPINION FILED FEBRUARY 15, 1985.

SOUTH STICKNEY PARK DISTRICT, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

THE VILLAGE OF BEDFORD PARK, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Arthur L. Dunne, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE LORENZ DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Defendant, village of Bedford Park, appeals from an order of the trial court granting summary judgment in favor of plaintiff, South Stickney Park District, on count I of its two-count complaint for declaratory relief. On appeal, defendant contends, inter alia, that the trial court erred in granting plaintiff's motion for summary judgment because (1) a genuine issue of material fact existed, and (2) assuming arguendo that there was no issue of material fact present, the trial court erred as a matter of law in its application of section 8-1 of the Park District Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 105, par. 8-1).

For the reasons given below, we vacate the trial court's order and remand with directions to dismiss count I of plaintiff's complaint. Pertinent to our disposition are the following.

Plaintiff, South Stickney Park District, is a governmental entity organized pursuant to the provisions of the Park District Code. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 105, par. 1 et seq.) Its boundaries are included within the city of Burbank, village of Bridgeview, village of Bedford Park and portions of unincorporated Cook County. Plaintiff operates a park site on land lying east of Narragansett Avenue and south of 75th Street in the city of Burbank. In March of 1981, plaintiff sought to expand the existing park and acquired a nine-acre parcel of land directly west of the existing park, but separated therefrom by Narragansett Avenue. The newly acquired acreage was wholly within the boundaries of the Bedford Park District, and within the corporate limits of defendant village of Bedford Park.

As a condition of the grant money which it received from the Illinois Department of Conservation to purchase the land, plaintiff was obliged to use the acquired property only for park and recreational purposes. Upon approval of its planned use for the property by the Office of the Governor and the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission, plaintiff received additional development grants from the Illinois Department of Conservation. Plaintiff's attempts to improve the newly acquired parcel were halted by the defendant which contended that plaintiff lacked authority to develop and operate a park on property wholly outside of plaintiff's boundaries.

In June of 1983, plaintiff filed its complaint for a declaratory judgment and other relief. Count I alleged that the defendant refused to allow plaintiff to develop its property as a park site; that section 8-1 of the Park District Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 105, par. 8-1) gave plaintiff complete power and control over the property in question even though the property was located outside of plaintiff's legal boundaries; that an actual controversy existed between plaintiff and defendant concerning the use of the described property as a park site; and that plaintiff was entitled to a declaration of rights. Plaintiff asked the trial court to enter a declaratory judgment to the effect that the defendant village had no jurisdiction over the site and that plaintiff could use its property for park purposes. Count II of the complaint prayed that the court find that defendant's zoning ordinance, which prohibited the use of plaintiff's property for park purposes, was unconstitutional.

In its motion for summary judgment, plaintiff contended that section 8-1 of the Park District Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 105, par. 8-1) provides it with complete power to manage and control all property of its district whether located within or without its boundaries. Defendant conceded that plaintiff had total control of all property within its own boundaries, but argued that outside its boundaries, plaintiff was a mere landowner no different than any other landowner, and therefore subject to defendant's reasonable zoning regulations.

On October 27, 1983, the trial court found, inter alia, that there were no material issues of fact in controversy; plaintiff owned a parcel of land located outside of its legal boundaries and within defendant's boundaries; and section 8-1 of the Park District Code provides that a park district shall have the same power over lands that it owns concerning the construction, laying out and operation of its parks, whether that land was within or without such park district. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of plaintiff and against defendant, and permanently enjoined defendant from interfering with or enforcing any of its ordinances against the operation or construction of a park site on plaintiff's land. Count II was not decided by the trial court and is still pending. The trial court further found that there was no just reason for delay in the enforcement of its order.

Defendant appeals from the trial court's order.

OPINION

The primary question that we are presented with on appeal is whether a park district has the right to establish a park outside of its own boundaries, free from regulation by the municipality in which it is located.

Section 8-1 of the Park District Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 105, par. 8-1) provides in part that:

"Every park district shall * * * have and exercise the following powers:

(b)(1) To acquire by gift, devise, grant or purchase, or by condemnation under the Eminent Domain Act, any and all real estate, or rights therein necessary for building, laying out, extending, adorning and maintaining any such parks, * * * or for effecting any of the powers or purposes granted under this code * * *, whether such lands be located within or without such district; provided however, that no park district, except as provided in paragraph (2) of this subsection, shall have any power of condemnation * * * as to any real estate * * * or other property situated outside of such district, but shall only have power to acquire the same by gift, devise, grant or ...


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