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General Auto Service Station v. Maniatis

March 08, 2002

GENERAL AUTO SERVICE STATION, AN ILLINOIS CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
SAM MANIATIS; CITY OF CHICAGO, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION; YVS, INC.; STATE-ELM INC.; AND WEST EGG CAFÉ ON STATE ST., LTD., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Campbell

Released for publication March 12, 2002.

GENERAL AUTO SERVICE STATION, AN ILLINOIS CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
SAM MANIATIS; CITY OF CHICAGO, A MUNICIPAL CORPORATION; YVS, INC.; STATE-ELM INC.; AND WEST EGG CAFÉ ON STATE ST., LTD., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Campbell

PUBLISHED

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY. HONORABLE JOHN K. MADDEN, JUDGE PRESIDING.

 Plaintiff General Auto Service Station (GASS) appeals an order of the circuit court of Cook County granting summary judgment to defendant City of Chicago (City) on count I of plaintiff's complaint, which sought a declaration that a dead-end alley near the intersection of State and Elm Streets in Chicago is privately owned by the owners of the properties surrounding the alley. *fn1 This appeal is a continuation of the litigation previously before this court in Heerey v. Maniatis, 192 Ill. App. 3d 868, 549 N.E.2d 691 (1989).

Although the facts of the case are largely detailed in the Heerey opinion, it is useful to review them and the prior proceedings briefly here. The first division of the property at issue appearing in the record on appeal, referred to as the "Assessor's Division," was recorded on July 28, 1860. The plat of the Assessor's Division depicts lots bounded by Elm and Cedar Streets on the north and south, by Lake Michigan on the east, and Green Bay Street (later referred to as Rush Street and State Street) on the west.

On November 25, 1882, George Healy filed a plat of subdivision (Healy's Subdivision), extending to Lake Shore Drive on the east, which subdivided Lot 1 of the Assessor's Division into 34 lots. Healy's Subdivision contains a strip of land abutting Lots 1-3 on the west and Lot 4 on the east. The strip runs to what was Lot 2 of the Assessor's Division on the south and has an open boundary with Elm Street on the north. The plat shows that the strip is 12' wide. Healy's Subdivision names the streets bounding the property, but does not name or otherwise refer to the strip as an alley. The northernmost part of this strip, measuring 12' X 49.36', is the "alley" at issue here.

In 1891, Healy conveyed Lot 4 of Healy's Subdivision to William Seymour "in consideration of Seven Thousand and Five Hundred Dollars ($7500) in hand paid." The conveyance from Healy to Seymour made no mention of the alley. Healy died in 1894; his real estate holdings were bequeathed to his wife Louisa. On April 13, 1899, William and Katherine Seymour conveyed Lot 4 to Suel and Florence Joss. A restrictive covenant contained in the April 1899 deed, stated as follows:

"A part of the consideration herein is that the grantee herein and all persons holding under and through him [of Lot 4] shall never join in any petition to vacate the public alley next west of those premises, but such alley shall forever remain a public alley situated in the City of Chicago."

On September 5, 1899, the Josses conveyed Lot 4 to Thomas Skinner; the deed did not mention the restrictive covenant, but referred to Lot 4 as "being the property on the south side of Elm Street next east of the public alley ***." A deed apparently recorded in January 1900 (insofar as the photocopy thereof is legible), conveying Lot 4 from Thomas and Emily Skinner to Sherman T. Kimbell also referred to Lot 4 as "on the south side of Elm Street next east of the public alley about 120 feet east of State Street ***."

It is undisputed that the deeds of the Josses, Skinner and Kimbell were subject to a $7,500 debt owed to Louisa Healy, which apparently was not paid. In 1901, Healy's widow sued Seymour, Joss and Skinner, Kimbell and others, reacquiring Lot 4 through a judicial sale. The restrictive covenant in the April 1899 deed does not appear in the deed obtained by Louisa Healy in the judicial sale. The deeds for Lot 4 recorded thereafter do not mention the restrictive covenant or the alley.

In 1928, another plat was filed by a successor owner of Lot 4, which described the alley as a private alley. This plat, referred to as the "Owner's Division," expressly excludes the area taken by Lots 1-3 of Healy's Subdivision, but does include Lot 4 and the lot south of the alley.

On February 6, 1985, Bernard A. Heerey, GASS's predecessor-in-interest to property including Lot 4, filed a three-count complaint against Sam Maniatis, the beneficial owner of other property abutting the disputed alley, the City, and the Western National Bank of Cicero as the title owner of Maniatis' property. Count I of Heerey's complaint sought a declaration that the alley is privately owned. The record shows that in January 1985, when Heerey's attorney went to the Department of Maps to find out who was the private owner of the alley, the Superintendent of Maps took a pen and crossed out the word "private" and ...


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