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06/08/87 the City of Decatur, v. Waste Hauling

June 8, 1987

THE CITY OF DECATUR, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE

v.

WASTE HAULING, INC., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FOURTH DISTRICT

509 N.E.2d 716, 156 Ill. App. 3d 630, 109 Ill. Dec. 55 1987.IL.764

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Macon County; the Hon. James A. Hendrian, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE KNECHT delivered the opinion of the court. GREEN and LUND, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE KNECHT

Defendant Waste Hauling, Inc., appeals from its conviction under a Decatur, Illinois, ordinance which prohibits refuse haulers in the city from collecting garbage at residences outside the district to which they have been assigned. Defendant asserts the ordinance is unconstitutional because it creates an irrational distinction between "residential" and "commercial" refuse pick-up accounts and because it acts to deprive defendant of a vested property interest. Defendant also challenges the validity of the Decatur ordinance under the statute which authorizes a municipality to contract for refuse removal services. Further, defendant asserts the trial court erred in striking its affirmative defenses although they had previously been addressed in ruling on defendant's motion to dismiss the ordinance prosecution. We affirm.

The city of Decatur (city) initially filed an information charging defendant with violating section 22(c), chapter 55, Decatur City Code, on October 7, 1985. The information alleged defendant had "removed refuse from . . . a location outside the geographical boundaries of the area assigned to his license." Defendant responded with a motion to dismiss the information, which raised the constitutional arguments pursued on appeal. In support of this motion, defendant attached the affidavit of C. Dean Perry. Perry averred he was the owner of the three-dwelling building on William Street from which defendant had allegedly removed refuse and that defendant had removed refuse from this building since before the ordinance was enacted. Perry also stated defendant was the sole refuse-removal service used for apartment and commercial buildings owned by Perry within the city of Decatur.

After the circuit court denied defendant's motion to dismiss, defendant answered and raised the constitutional arguments as affirmative defenses. On its own motion, the trial court struck these defenses because they had previously been rejected in ruling on defendant's motion to dismiss.

A bench trial subsequently took place, at which the parties stipulated the residence in question was not in the defendant's service area and contained three apartment units. The city then presented testimony from Steven L. Trimby, an employee of the refuse hauler assigned to the service area containing the building from which defendant had allegedly removed garbage. Trimby testified he had observed a man in a truck marked with the defendant's logo removing refuse from the William Street building on several occasions. Following this evidence, the court found defendant guilty of removing garbage from a residential building outside its service area and imposed a fine of $125.

The ordinance in question defines "residential" in the following terms:

"Premises occupied by six or fewer living units. Routes predominantly serving residential premises. Areas predominantly consisting of residential premises. Refuse produced on residential premises." (Decatur City Code, ch. 55, sec. 2.)

The code also provides for residential service areas based upon geography and specifies no residential area shall be included within the boundaries of more than one licensing area. (Decatur City Code, ch. 55, secs. 24, 25.) No hauler, other than the owner or occupier of the property, may remove refuse from any premises without a license. Decatur City Code, ch. 55, sec. 21.

Defendant's initial argument apparently contends the ordinance violates equal-protection guarantees because it defines "residential premises" as all buildings containing six or fewer living units. By its terms, this definition includes premises operated for strictly commercial purposes and premises operated by landlords whose combined holdings total more than six living units, albeit in different buildings. Thus, defendant concludes, the city's definition of residential premises to include all buildings containing six or fewer living units is irrational.

An ordinance which seeks to promote public health, safety, or welfare will withstand challenge on equal-protection grounds if it makes classifications which are reasonably calculated to promote such public interests. (People ex rel. Skinner v. Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum, Inc. (1986), 114 Ill. 2d 252, 500 N.E.2d 34; City of Chicago v. Vokes (1963), 28 Ill. 2d 475, 193 N.E.2d 40.) "The reasonableness of a police regulation is not necessarily what is best but what is fairly appropriate under all circumstances." (City of Chicago v. Vokes (1963), 28 Ill. 2d 475, 479, 193 N.E.2d 40, 44.) A classification is not ...


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