SUPREME COURT OF ILLINOIS
549 N.E.2d 578, 133 Ill. 2d 146, 139 Ill. Dec. 852 1989.IL.2001
Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Second District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County, the Hon. Michael J. Colwell, Judge, presiding.
CHIEF JUSTICE MORAN delivered the opinion of the court. JUSTICE RYAN, Concurring.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE MORAN
Harris Trust & Savings Bank, Faith Lutheran Church of Meadowdale, Caryl C. Wilder, Jonathan T. Wilder and Phillip E. Bash (collectively, plaintiffs) originally filed a petition in the circuit court of Cook County pursuant to section 7-3-6 of the Illinois Municipal Code (Municipal Code) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 24, par. 7-3-6) to disconnect certain property from the defendant, the village of Barrington Hills (village). The village filed a special and limited appearance contesting venue and a motion, pursuant to section 2-106 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 110, par. 2-106), to transfer venue to the circuit court of Kane County, because the situs of the property was in Kane County, not Cook County. The motion to transfer venue was granted. Following a bench trial, the plaintiffs' petition was denied because the trial court found that disconnecting the property would unreasonably disrupt the growth prospects and plan and zoning ordinances of the village. Plaintiffs appealed and the appellate court reversed, as it determined that the trial court's finding was against the manifest weight of the evidence. (177 Ill. App. 3d 673.) The village's petition for leave to appeal was allowed (107 Ill. 2d R. 315), and the City of Chicago, City of Elgin, Village of Long Grove, Lake County and Illinois Municipal League were granted leave to file briefs as amici curiae (107 Ill. 2d R. 345) in support of the village.
The question to be decided is whether disconnection of the subject parcel will unreasonably disrupt the growth prospects and plan and zoning ordinances of the village. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 24, par. 7-3-6(4).) The parties agreed by their pleadings the other disconnection factors (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 24, par. 7-3-6) had been met.
The village covers nearly 27 square miles, 25% of which is forest preserves and other permanent open space, and over 90% of the village, including the preserves and open spaces, is zoned R -- 1 (single-family residence district), which requires a minimum lot size of five acres. Plaintiffs are the owners of record of approximately 95 acres situated on the village's western limit at its border with Carpentersville. The property, resembling an inverted "L," is located on the south side of Helm Road about a quarter of a mile east of Route 25. It has 1,800 feet of frontage on Helm Road, a maximum depth of 2,600 feet, and is surrounded on the north, south and west by Carpentersville. To the east are three lots of five acres or more and the Helm Woods Forest Preserve, which is owned by the Kane County Forest Preserve District. The Dundee Township Park District also owns a park that is contiguous with the parcel's southeast corner. (See the map appended to the end of this opinion.) The parcel is zoned R -- 1 and is used for farming, and includes three houses, a church and parsonage.
At trial both sides presented expert witnesses. Plaintiffs' experts were John Coleman and Steven Lenet. Coleman, a realtor and real estate appraiser, stated the impact of disconnection would be minimal because the residential properties to the east were all developed and the Kane County forest preserve would not be affected at all. On cross-examination, Coleman stated that he was asked to appraise the property assuming a number of scenarios ranging from five-acre lots to development of multiple-family housing at a density of 12 units per acre. He thought development at 12 units per acre was unrealistic, but said that type of development would have a greater impact on the surrounding area than development of five-acre lots, as there would be more people, traffic and activity. He concluded, however, that the impact would be cushioned because of the buffer provided by the forest preserve and other existing properties in the area.
Lenet, a land-use consultant, testified that disconnection would not unreasonably disrupt the plan or zoning ordinances nor would it unreasonably disrupt the village's growth prospects, because under the current zoning only 14 or 15 lots could be developed. He said the property was unlikely to develop under that zoning, and noted that if disconnected the property would be zoned at Kane County's highest residential classification.
Robert Kosin, Donald Klein, Lane Kendig and Richard Roddewig testified for defendant. Kosin, the village's director of administration, said the comprehensive plan set forth objectives which the village would like to maintain in planning unit seven, the unit in which the subject parcel is located. He testified about the usage of Helm Road, but was not asked if disconnection would disrupt the village's growth prospects, plan or zoning ordinances; however, he said the village opposed disconnection because it "circumvents our planning and zoning." On cross-examination, he said disconnecting the property would not affect the majority of objectives set forth in the comprehensive plan for planning unit seven.
Klein, executive director of the Barrington Area Council of Governments, said disconnection was simply a way of avoiding the planning and zoning process. He said disconnection would unreasonably disrupt: the village's growth prospects, because it would fragment its western edge; the planning ordinance, because planning implies continuity and disconnection would upset that continuity; and the zoning ordinance, because disconnection would fragment the village limits. He said the property could be developed at its current zoning using "mitigating devices" to shield it from "the Barbary Coast" of Carpentersville. On cross-examination, Klein stated that if the property were disconnected the village limits would be less fragmented than at present.
Kendig, a land-use consultant, stated disconnection would unreasonably disrupt the village's growth prospects because it would remove the property from the village, thereby making it unavailable for village growth, and would undermine the land market in the village. He said that disconnection would unreasonably disrupt the village's plan because it would alter the boundaries and character of the village, and the village would be threatened by incremental disconnections. He stated that disconnection would unreasonably disrupt the zoning ordinance because it would result in a zoning change, but without going through the zoning process. He said the property as zoned could be developed, if the property and homes were designed to minimize the impact of the smaller homes and lot sizes of Carpentersville.
On cross-examination, Kendig said the threat disconnection posed was in serving as a precedent for future disconnections. He admitted, however, that there had been two prior judicial disconnections over the past 25 years; that those cases were known within the village and there had been no rush to disconnect. He also said this was "basically" a zoning case, that if the property were disconnected the village could still use its ...