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05/05/89 In Re Petition To Form A New Park District Coterminous With

May 5, 1989

IN RE PETITION TO FORM A NEW PARK DISTRICT COTERMINOUS WITH


APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, FIFTH DIVISION

THE VILLAGE OF MAYWOOD, ILLINOIS, TO SUPERCEDE THE

EXISTING CENTRAL AREA AND WEST MAYWOOD PARK

DISTRICTS

538 N.E.2d 849, 182 Ill. App. 3d 973, 131 Ill. Dec. 474 1989.IL.683

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Joseph Schneider, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE COCCIA delivered the opinion of the court. MURRAY, P.J., and LORENZ, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE COCCIA

This action was brought on December 16, 1988, as a petition for the submission of the question whether to form a new park district with boundaries coterminous with those of the Village of Maywood and, in so doing, to supercede the existing West Maywood and Central Area Park Districts. In support of the petition, three separate sets of petition sheets were submitted to the trial court: one set purporting to include signatures of legal voters residing in the West Maywood Park District, a second set for purported legal voters residing in the Central Area Park District, and a third set for purported legal voters residing in the area within the Village of Maywood not currently within either park district.

On February 8, 1989, the trial court entered an order certifying the petition for submission to referendum. It is from that order that this appeal is taken.

We immediately took this appeal as an expedited matter on briefs only. On April 3, 1989, due to the shortness of time before the election within which to deal with the appeal, we entered an order staying certification of the referendum results until the further order of this court.

We have reviewed the briefs and record in this case and have concluded that the trial court erred in finding that the petition filed in this cause met the requirements of the Park District Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 105, par. 2-1 et seq.) and the general election law of Illinois. Accordingly, we need not deal with the several additional issues assigned as errors in this case. We therefore reverse and remand this cause to the trial court with directions as set forth herein.

On December 16, 1988, the last day permitted under the applicable provisions of the Election Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 46, par. 28-2), a group calling itself the "Citizens for a Unified Park District" filed a petition in the county division of the circuit court of Cook County, Illinois, entitled "IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION TO FORM A NEW PARK DISTRICT COTERMINOUS WITH THE VILLAGE OF MAYWOOD, ILLINOIS, TO SUPERCEDE THE EXISTING CENTRAL AND WEST MAYWOOD PARK DISTRICTS." Attached to that petition were the three sets of petition sheets purporting to contain the signatures of legal voters residing within the Central Area Park District, the West Maywood Park District, and the area within the Village of Maywood which was not a part of nor situated within a park district.

On January 18, 1989, the West Maywood Park District filed a motion to strike and dismiss the petition on grounds that the petition did not conform with section 2-4 of the Park District Code. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 105, par. 2-4.

Section 2-4 of the Park District Code specifically provides the trial court may certify a petition only if there is a finding that it "meets the requirements of [the Park District Code] and the general election law." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 105, par. 2-4.) In particular, the West Maywood Park District asserted that the petition failed to comply with the requirements of the general election law, i.e., section 28- 3 of the Election Code. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 46, par. 28-3.

Petitioners filed their response to the West Maywood Park District's motion to strike and dismiss on January 24, 1989. They argued that the petition not only met the requirements of the Park District Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 105, par. 2-1 et seq.), but also that the Park District Code governed exclusively the procedure and contents of petitions for the formation of new park districts. They cited the case of In re Organization of Greater Algonquin Park District (1982), 103 Ill. App. 3d 1056, 432 N.E.2d 306, in support of their contention. Relying on Algonquin, petitioners asserted that, contrary to section 28-3, no circulator's statement and verification were needed. They further asserted that the heading requirement of section 28-3 did not apply to the petition sheets.

On January 25, 1989, the West Maywood Park District filed its reply in support of its motion to strike and dismiss. The West Maywood Park District informed the court that the second district's reasoning in Algonquin had been addressed and rejected in the subsequent fourth district decision in Adsit v. Sanders (1987), 157 Ill. App. 3d 416, 510 N.E.2d 547. The trial court reserved ruling on the applicability of section 28 -- 3 of the Election Code until after evidence was heard on the objections.

After hearings over several days and after the taking of evidence, the court held that the provisions of the Election Code, including those under section 28 -- 3 which require a circulator's verification and statement on each petition sheet, did not apply to a petition to ...


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