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City of Mattoon v. Paradise Township

OPINION FILED MARCH 4, 1985.

THE CITY OF MATTOON, PLAINTIFF AND COUNTERDEFENDANT-APPELLEE,

v.

PARADISE TOWNSHIP ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS (STEPHEN J. UPHOFF, PARADISE TOWNSHIP ROAD COMMISSIONER, COUNTERPLAINTIFF-APPELLANT).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Coles County; the Hon. Paul C. Komada, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE TRAPP DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

On August 22, 1983, the city of Mattoon (Mattoon) filed a declaratory judgment action in the circuit court of Coles County asking the court to determine whether it or Paradise Township (Paradise) was responsible for maintenance of Lake Paradise Road. On November 10, 1983, Paradise filed a counterclaim for declaratory judgment maintaining Lake Paradise Road was part of the Mattoon municipal street system and Mattoon's responsibility. The complaints spoke of the road as one unit. Lake Paradise Road encircles Lake Paradise, with principal segments or arms of the road along the east and west sides of that lake.

On December 1, 1983, the court granted partial summary judgment to Paradise. The court stated the only disputed area remaining was a determination of the primary use or purpose of Lake Paradise Road. A hearing was held on February 23, 1984. On May 31, 1984, the court filed an order finding the east and west segments of Lake Paradise Road are two distinct roads. The east segment is private and Mattoon's responsibility. The west segment is public and Paradise's responsibility. The court ordered Mattoon to repair the east arm and Paradise to repair the west.

Paradise appeals. It argues the findings as to the west segment of the road are against the manifest weight of the evidence. We agree. Therefore, we reverse and remand to the trial court for entry of an order consistent with this opinion.

The court made the following findings in granting partial summary judgment to Paradise. In 1933, Mattoon acquired land outside its corporate limits, in Paradise Township, for the purpose of creating a system of water works and supply. It constructed Lake Paradise for this purpose. As Lake Paradise developed, Mattoon began leasing tracts of land on the marginal shoreline areas.

The road network was constructed primarily on Mattoon's property. No diagrams or plats of the network of roads adjacent to Lake Paradise have ever been filed with the Coles County recorder of deeds. Mattoon has never conveyed any part of Lake Paradise Road.

Mattoon has placed road signs on, plowed, cut weeds, policed, graded, oiled, applied rock, placed culverts under, and ditched along the edges of the "network of roads" around Lake Paradise, known as Lake Paradise Road. Mattoon used city employees and equipment for the work or hired contractors. The Paradise Township commissioner never included any part of Lake Paradise Road in the mileage used for computation of motor fuel tax. No Paradise Township commissioner ever maintained or repaired any part of Lake Paradise Road.

Lake Paradise Road has been open for common use and enjoyment since its construction. However, during the 1960's the commissioner of Mattoon's water department closed the road for 24 hours every five years to maintain it. The roads around Lake Paradise, known as Lake Paradise Road, are not a part of the State or county highway system.

Mattoon controls the Lake Paradise area as part of its system of water works and water supply. The Coles County sheriff patrols the area. Mattoon has jurisdiction over the road network pursuant to sections 11-125-2, 11-125-3, and "11-125-4" of the Illinois Municipal Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 24, pars. 11-125-2, 11-125-3, "11-125-4").

On February 3, 1983, a hearing was held to determine the primary use of Lake Paradise Road. Hubert Aleshire, a lifelong resident of Mattoon and former superintendent of the water department, testified that road construction was a joint effort between the Federal government and Mattoon. The work force consisted of men in government employment programs. However, Mattoon's water department supervised the work, which was completed according to its specifications. The workers built both arms of the road.

Michael Smyser, general manager of Mattoon's water department, testified about the road. He stated the water department employed an off-duty patrolman to maintain order. The patrolman regulates the use of the lake area from both sides of the lake using both portions of the road.

The east segment of the road provides access to 92 leased residential properties, a pump house, a playground, two pavilions and picnic areas. Most of the traffic control devices are on the developed, east side of the lake. Residents, Mattoon, visitors, the public and sportsmen use the road.

Bill Roberts, the lake superintendent, testified that he has worked on both arms of the road as a water department employee. Part of the east segment existed in the 1930's, when lake construction began. Ernest Fox, a retired water department employee, testified that a small part of the west arm of the road existed in the early 1930's.

The west segment of the road provides access to: One leased residential property; a city campground, now abandoned; a camping area leased to the Boy Scouts, unused since their cabin burned down; a camping area leased to the Girl Scouts; and numerous trails leading back to the lake. The trails are used principally by fishermen and campers. The west segment also provides access to nine private homes. ...


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