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04/20/89 Township High School v. the Village of Northfield

April 20, 1989

TOWNSHIP HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT 203, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE

v.

THE VILLAGE OF NORTHFIELD, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, FOURTH DIVISION

540 N.E.2d 365, 184 Ill. App. 3d 367, 132 Ill. Dec. 625 1989.IL.552

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Anthony Scotillo, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE LINN delivered the opinion of the court. JOHNSON and McMORROW, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE LINN

Plaintiff, Township High School District 203, operated a public high school commonly known as New Trier West High School, in the Village of Northfield, Illinois (the Village). Plaintiff ceased operating the high school in 1985. A college subsequently expressed interest in buying New Trier's property. The college, however, informed New Trier that it would not purchase the property so long as a recently enacted provision of the Village's zoning ordinance was in effect. The zoning provision would have required the college to pay an annual fee to the Village.

New Trier brought this declaratory judgment action in the circuit court of Cook County against the Village. New Trier sought, inter alia, a declaration that the contested zoning provision is illegal. The trial court denied the Village's motion to dismiss and subsequently granted New Trier's motion for summary judgment on the first two counts of the complaint.

The Village appeals, contending that the trial court should have dismissed the complaint because: (1) New Trier lacked a sufficient interest to challenge the annual fee, and (2) no justiciable controversy existed between the parties. The Village also contends that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment for New Trier because: (1) the Village has the authority to impose such a fee, and (2) the fee is not an illegal tax.

We reverse and remand with directions.

Background

For purposes of review, a motion to dismiss admits all well-pled facts and reasonable inferences that can be drawn from the well-pled facts. (Mack v. Plaza DeWitt Ltd. Partnership (1985), 137 Ill. App. 3d 343, 349, 484 N.E.2d 900, 905.) New Trier owns approximately 43 acres of land within the Village, spread across Happ Road. Most of the land, approximately 33 acres, lies east of the road, with the remaining 10 acres, 25% of the total, lying west of the road. According to the Village's zoning ordinance, which contains the official zoning map, the east parcel is zoned R-4, single-family dwelling zoning district. The west parcel is zoned M-1, light manufacturing zoning district.

New Trier received a special use permit from the Village in 1963 to build the New Trier West High School. The east parcel was improved with school buildings and outdoor sports facilities; the west parcel was improved with tennis courts and a parking area. New Trier operated the public high school from 1965 through June 1985. For several years thereafter, New Trier attempted to sell or lease the property.

The National College of Education (National College) is a not-for-profit, tax-exempt educational institution. In May 1987, National College began negotiations with New Trier to buy the property. In June 1987, according to New Trier's complaint, National College "indicated its willingness" to bid $22 million for the property at a public auction.

During this time, the Village expressed to New Trier its concern over the future use of the property and the impact thereof on property taxes. The Village subsequently notified New Trier that it was considering amending the permitted use and special use provisions of the Village's zoning ordinance. On several occasions, New Trier expressed to the Village its belief that the amendment would "have a ...


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