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Indian Valley Golf Club v. Long Grove

OPINION FILED JULY 5, 1985.

INDIAN VALLEY GOLF CLUB, INC., PETITIONER-APPELLANT AND CROSS-APPELLEE,

v.

THE VILLAGE OF LONG GROVE, RESPONDENT-APPELLEE AND CROSS-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County; the Hon. Harry D. Strouse, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE HOPF DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied August 21, 1985.

A petition for disconnection of property owned by petitioner, Indian Valley Golf Club, Inc. (Indian Valley), and lying within the corporate limits of the respondent, village of Long Grove (Long Grove), was filed pursuant to section 7-3-6 of the Illinois Municipal Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 24, par. 7-3-6). Long Grove filed a motion to dismiss the petition to disconnect, which the trial court denied. On the date of trial, Indian Valley was granted leave to file an amended petition, and Long Grove responded by filing a motion to dismiss the amended petition. At a hearing on Long Grove's motion to dismiss, the trial court granted the motion and dismissed with prejudice Indian Valley's amended petition to disconnect.

It is Indian Valley's contention, on appeal, that (1) the trial court erred in granting Long Grove's motion to dismiss the proposed disconnection because the disconnection would not result in isolation of any portion of Long Grove, and (2) the trial court properly found that the property to be disconnected was located on the border of Long Grove because tracts of land, which can be combined to make up the area to be disconnected, do not all have to be entirely on the border of a municipality for the area to satisfy the disconnection statute. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 24, par. 7-3-6.

In its original petition for disconnection Indian Valley sought to disconnect territory owned by it and lying within the corporate limits of the municipality of Long Grove. According to the petition, the subject property satisfied all requirements of the disconnection statute (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 24, par. 7-3-6). At the time of Indian Valley's filing, the statute provided, in relevant part:

"The owner or owners of record of any area of land consisting of one or more tracts, lying within the corporate limits of any municipality may have such territory disconnected which (1) is not contiguous in whole or in part to any other municipality; (2) contains 20 or more acres; (3) is not subdivided into municipal lots and blocks; (4) is located on the border of the municipality; (5) if disconnected, will not result in the isolation of any part of the municipality from the remainder of the municipality, (6) if disconnected, the growth prospects and plan and zoning ordinances, if any, of such municipality will not be unreasonably disrupted, (7) if disconnected, no substantial disruption will result to existing municipal service facilities, such as, but not limited to, sewer systems, street lighting, water mains, garbage collection and fire protection, (8) if disconnected the municipality will not be unduly harmed through loss of tax revenue in the future. The procedure for disconnection shall be as follows:

The owner or owners of record of any such area of land shall file a petition in the circuit court of the county where the land is situated, alleging facts in support of the disconnection. The municipality from which disconnection is sought shall be made a defendant, and it, or any taxpayer residing in that municipality, may appear and defend against the petition. If the court finds that the allegations of the petition are true and that the area of land is entitled to disconnection it shall order the specified land disconnected from the designated municipality. If the circuit court finds that the allegations contained in the petition are not true, the court shall enter an order dismissing the petition."

The subject property to be disconnected consisted of two adjoining parcels of land owned by Indian Valley, totaling approximately 118 acres and used primarily as a public golf course. The subject property was bounded to the north and east by Lake County and to the south and west by Long Grove. Plat of Disconnection No. 1.

Long Grove filed a motion to dismiss Indian Valley's petition, maintaining that the petition failed to satisfy the majority of the requirements set forth in the disconnection statute. The trial court denied the motion. Subsequently, on the date of trial Long Grove disclosed that in January 1983 it had annexed a single lot (lot 78) located on the northern border of Indian Valley's property. The lot had previously been part of unincorporated Lake County. The effect of this annexation was to isolate lot 78 from the rest of Long Grove. As a result, Indian Valley sought leave to file an amended petition which the trial court granted.

In its amended petition to disconnect and its accompanying plat of disconnection, Indian Valley sought to disconnect a smaller portion of its property than it had originally petitioned to disconnect by excepting the majority of the northernmost portion of the subject property. (Plat of Disconnection No. 2.) The excepted parcel measured 150 feet in width and 948 feet in length. Indian Valley maintained that the subject property after the exception of the northernmost portion satisfied all the statutory requirements of the disconnection statute.

In response, Long Grove filed a motion to dismiss the amended petition to disconnect, attacking the sufficiency of the complaint and claiming essentially that the amended petition failed to show that the subject property satisfied the statutory requirements for disconnection. Included among these contentions were Long Grove's assertion that the subject property was not situated entirely on the border of Long Grove and that disconnection of the subject property would result in isolation of a portion of the municipality from the remainder of Long Grove.

Indian Valley filed a response to Long Grove's motion to dismiss, arguing in terms of the issues on appeal that the subject property to be disconnected was located on the border of Long Grove even though not all parties of the land were situated entirely on the border, that a petitioner seeking disconnection from a municipality may leave some of its tract of land in a municipality to avoid isolating parts of the municipality, that no isolation occurs as long as a continuing and connected boundary line exists after disconnection, and that by not including in its amended petition for disconnection the portion of Indian Valley's land which was directly adjacent to lot 78, the lot would remain within Long Grove and not be isolated from the remainder of the municipality.

At a hearing conducted on defendant's motion to dismiss, the trial court dismissed the amended petition to disconnect. The trial court found (1) that the proposed disconnection would result in the isolation of a portion of Long Grove's municipality, and (2) that the property which was the subject matter of the proposed disconnection was situated on the border of Long Grove.

• 1, 2 The courts have liberally construed disconnection statutes in favor of disconnection if the enumerated requirements are met, regardless of the purpose of the petitioner (In re Disconnection from the Village of Machesney Park (1984), 122 Ill. App.3d 960, 461 N.E.2d 1019; La Salle National Bank v. Village of Burr Ridge (1967), 81 Ill. App.2d 209, 225 N.E.2d 33), and the common theme is to permit disconnection absent a hardship or impairment to the municipality. (In re Disconnection from the Sanitary District of Rockford (1982), 111 Ill. App.3d 339, 347, 443 N.E.2d 1079.) The disconnection act should be given a sensible, intelligent, and reasonable meaning (In re Disconnection from the City of Palos Heights (1961), ...


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