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08/31/95 TOWN NORTHVILLE v. VILLAGE SHERIDAN

August 31, 1995

THE TOWN OF NORTHVILLE, WILSON MASTERS AND DOROTHY MASTERS, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
VILLAGE OF SHERIDAN, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court for the 13th Judicial Circuit La Salle County, Illinois. No. 94 MC 2. Honorable Robert L. Carter Judge, Presiding.

Present - Honorable Allan L. Stouder, Presiding Justice, Honorable Peg Breslin, Justice, Honorable Tom M. Lytton, Justice. Justice Breslin delivered the opinion of the court: Stouder, P.j., and Lytton, J., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Breslin

JUSTICE BRESLIN delivered the opinion of the court:

The plaintiffs, Town of Northville (Northville) and Wilson and Dorothy Masters (the Masters), appeal from the dismissal of their complaint against the defendant, Village of Sheridan (Sheridan). The plaintiffs claimed that Sheridan's exercise of its extraterritorial zoning authority violated their constitutional voting rights and that thestatutory ranking of the zoning power of municipalities versus townships was an unreasonable classification. The trial court dismissed Northville's claims for lack of standing and further held that the Masters' voting rights had not been violated. We affirm.

Sheridan is a municipality incorporated under the laws of the State of Illinois which has chosen to exercise the extraterritorial zoning authority granted to it by section 11-13-1 of the Illinois Municipal Code. (65 ILCS 5/11-13-1 (West 1992).) This authority allows Sheridan to enact a zoning ordinance governing the land within 1 1/2 miles from the village's borders. (65 ILCS 5/11-13-1 (West 1992).) Sheridan can only exercise this power if the land in question is not located in another municipality or included in another municipality's extraterritorial zoning ordinance and if the county has not enacted a zoning ordinance of its own. 65 ILCS 5/11-13-1 (West 1992).

Northville is a township organized under the laws of the State of Illinois. It is located near Sheridan, with some of the township land falling within the 1 1/2-mile extraterritorial zoning authority of Sheridan. As a township, Northville may exercise some authority in zoning. (See 60 ILCS 1/110-5 (West 1992).) However, a township may not exercise its zoning authority when the county has adopted a zoning ordinance or when the area is covered by a municipal zoning ordinance. 60 ILCS 1/110-5(b), (c) (West 1992).

The Masters live on land that falls within both the township of Northville and the extraterritorial zoning authority of Sheridan.

In count I of their complaint, Northville and the Masters claimed that the statute allowing Sheridan to exercise extraterritorial zoning violated their voting rights because they are not allowed to vote for the officials who adopt, amend and administer Sheridan's zoning ordinance even though they are affected by the ordinance. In count II, the plaintiffs claimed that the classification of zoning authorities between townships and municipalities was an unreasonable classification.

The instant controversy stems from four motions to dismiss filed by Sheridan. Three of these motions contended that the plaintiffs lacked standing with regard to the claims made in the complaint. The fourth argued that the Masters' voting rights claim was precluded by the Supreme Court opinion in Holt Civic Club v. City of Tuscaloosa (1978), 439 U.S. 60, 99 S. Ct. 383, 58 L. Ed. 2d 292. The trial court granted all four motions.

The first issue on appeal is whether the trial court properly determined that Northville lacked standing to bring a voting rights claim and that both Northville and the Masters lacked standing to bring a claim challenging the classification of zoning authority between townships and municipalities.

The purpose of the standing requirement is to preclude a person having no interest in a controversy from bringing suit. (In Re Marriage of Rodriguez (1989), 131 Ill. 2d 273, 545 N.E.2d 731, 137 Ill. Dec. 78.) In Illinois, a plaintiff has standing if he is able to show some injury in fact to a legally recognized interest. ( Rodriguez, 131 Ill. 2d 273, 545 N.E.2d 731, 137 Ill. Dec. 78.) A proponent must assert his own legal rights and interests, rather than basing his claim for relief upon the rights of third parties. People v. Bond (1990), 205 Ill. App. 3d 515, 563 N.E.2d 1107, 151 Ill. Dec. 1.

Initially, we note that Northville cannot claim that its voting rights have been abridged. Northville has no voting rights. Voting is a right enjoyed by individual citizens, not by municipalities or corporations or townships. Thus, it was not error to dismiss Northville's claim that the extraterritorial zoning statute violates the plaintiffs' voting rights.

Turning to the plaintiffs' claims that the statute creates an unreasonable classification, we find that the Masters cannot claim that they have any interest in the classification of zoning authorities except an incidental interest arising out of Northville's primary interest. The Masters do not enjoy any zoning authority which is abridged by the legislative scheme; nor will they ever have such authority. The essence of their claim is only that Northville's zoning authority should not be subordinate to Sheridan's zoning authority. Because they seek to assert legal rights and interests not their own, the Masters lack standing on this issue and their claim was properly dismissed.

We find that Northville also lacks standing to contest the constitutionality of the statutory ranking of the zoning authority of different units of local government. Generally, a municipality does not have due process or equal protection rights which can be protected by challenging allegedly unconstitutional statutes. ( People ex rel. Taylor v. Camargo Community Consolidated School District No. 158 (1925), 313 Ill. 321, 145 N.E. 154; Meador v. City of Salem (1972), 51 Ill. 2d 572, 284 N.E.2d 266.) While we are aware that the Illinois Supreme Court has decided cases involving a municipality's challenge to legislative classifications (see County of Boone v. Village of Rainbow Gardens (1958), 14 Ill. 2d 504, 153 N.E.2d 16; City of Urbana v. Houser (1977), 67 Ill. 2d 268, 367 N.E.2d 692, 10 Ill. Dec. 239; City of Carbondale v. Van Natta (1975), 61 Ill. 2d 483, 338 N.E.2d 19), the court did not specifically address the issue of whether the municipality had standing to bring the claim ...


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