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06/23/89 Stewart Mcnames Et Al., v. Rockford Park District

June 23, 1989





540 N.E.2d 1119, 185 Ill. App. 3d 291, 133 Ill. Dec. 253 1989.IL.986

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County; the Hon. John C. Layng, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE McLAREN delivered the opinion of the court. DUNN and LINDBERG, JJ., concur.


This appeal is brought by the Rockford Park District (District), contending it has the statutory authority to provide shooting-range facilities as a recreational activity. We agree and reverse and remand.

Plaintiffs, neighbors of certain park lands administered by the District, brought this suit to enjoin defendant from leasing land to the Pine Tree Pistol Club (Club) for its exclusive use as a shooting range and to permanently enjoin the District from otherwise constructing and operating an indoor and outdoor pistol and rifle target-shooting range. Plaintiffs argued in separate counts that the District had no statutory authority to engage in such activities and that the range would be a nuisance and deprive plaintiffs of the peaceful enjoyment of their property. Plaintiffs additionally alleged that the range would interfere with the flood drainage system for which this 25-acre parcel of land was intended; this allegation was later withdrawn.

On March 17, 1988, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of plaintiffs on the lease issue, finding that the District could not lawfully sell or lease land to the Club (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 105, par. 10-7) and dismissing the Club from the suit.

After trial, the court made the following factual findings, that, inter alia, (1) maintaining a pistol and rifle shooting facility is an inherently dangerous activity and is not set forth as an authorized power of a park district under the Park District Code (Code) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 105, par. 8-10); (2) pistol and rifle shooting and target practice constitute a recreational activity; and (3) a proposed, indoor target-shooting facility would not constitute a private nuisance. The court did not address whether the proposed outdoor shooting range was a nuisance. The court concluded, as a matter of law, that the District has no specific, statutory authority to conduct a recreational target-shooting facility and permanently enjoined the District from conducting, building, or operating any indoor or outdoor shooting range upon the specific premises legally described in the order.

The District appeals from the order enjoining the construction and operation of the proposed shooting facility, arguing that it has the statutory authority to construct and operate such facilities and that this is solely a question of law.

Plaintiffs conceded in answers to interrogatories that the issue is one of law, but contend that the failure to provide this court with a sufficient record requires affirmance. While we recognize the responsibility of an appellant to provide a sufficiently complete record of the trial proceedings to support a claim of error, the absence of the report of proceedings here will not bar our review as the issue we address is solely a question of law and does not involve evidentiary issues. (See Woodfield Ford, Inc. v. Akins Ford Corp. (1979), 77 Ill. App. 3d 343, 347.) The pleadings contain the legal issue to be resolved.

Defendant has appended to its brief an uncertified record of the proceedings during which the trial court briefly discussed its findings; such matter is outside the record, and we have not considered it.

In arguing that it has the implied power to construct and operate target-shooting ranges, the District relies on the grant of powers found in section 8 -- 10 of the Code, which states:

"All park districts shall have power to plan, establish and maintain recreational programs, provide musical concerts, to construct, equip and maintain airports, landing fields for aircraft, armories, field houses, gymnasiums, assembly rooms, comfort stations, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, wading pools, bathing beaches, bath houses, locker rooms, boating basins, boat houses, lagoons, skating rinks, piers, conservatories for the propagation of flowers, shrubs, and other plants, animal and bird houses and enclosures, athletic fields with seating stands, golf, tennis, and other courses, courts, and grounds, and the power to make and enforce reasonable rules, regulations, and charges therefor. The express enumeration of each of the foregoing recreational facilities and equipment which park districts are herein given the power to provide shall not be construed as a limitation upon said park districts, nor prohibit any park district from providing any other facilities or equipment which may be ...

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