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Ruble v. Sturhahn

May 19, 2004

RUSSELL RUBLE, PATTI RUBLE, CHARLES W. BOOTH, AND DENISE BOOTH, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
v.
K.J. STURHAHN AND THE CITY OF PITTSFIELD, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from Circuit Court of Pike County. No. 98MR24. Honorable Richard D. Greenlief Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Myerscough

PUBLISHED

In August 1998, plaintiffs, Russell and Patti Ruble (Rubles) and Charles and Denise Booth (Booths) (hereinafter collectively plaintiffs), filed suit against defendants, K.J. Sturhahn and the City of Pittsfield, seeking a declaratory judgment regarding the constitutionality of the zoning reclassification of real property in plaintiffs' residential subdivision. On August 30, 1999, plaintiffs filed an amended complaint also alleging that Sturhahn violated restrictive covenants and provisions in the Plat Act (765 ILCS 205/0.01 through 14 (West 1998)). In October 1999, the trial court dismissed the portions of plaintiffs' complaint alleging Sturhahn violated restrictive covenants and the Plat Act. On March 30, 2000, the court granted summary judgment in favor of Sturhahn, finding the zoning reclas-sification constitutional. On June 14, 2000, the court denied plaintiffs' motion to reconsider. On appeal, this court affirmed the trial court's judgment granting summary judgment, finding the rezoning classification constitutional, and reversed the trial court's dismissal of counts II and III, finding plaintiffs had alleged sufficient facts to state a cause of action under the Plat Act and to state a cause of action that Sturhahn violated an implied restrictive covenant. We remanded the cause for further proceedings. Ruble v. Sturhahn, No. 4-00-0616 (August 24, 2001) (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23) (hereinafter Ruble).

On October 10, 2002, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Sturhahn on counts II and III. Plaintiffs appeal, arguing the trial court erroneously granted summary judgment in favor of Sturhahn. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings.

I. BACKGROUND

In 1955, the City of Pittsfield approved and adopted Ordinance 543, which established a planning commission to prepare a comprehensive plan for guidance of the development and direction of the growth of the city and its contiguous territory. City of Pittsfield Ordinance No. 543 (adopted September 6, 1955). In 1982, as part of this plan, the City of Pittsfield approved and adopted Ordinance 1013, annexing the tract of land that became the subdivision containing plaintiffs' real property and the 13-acre tract of land later purchased by Sturhahn. City of Pittsfield Ordinance No. 1013 (adopted October 19, 1982). Plaintiffs all own residential lots in the Pittsfield residential neighborhood platted and recorded as Rolling Meadows Third Addition. In 1987, the Rubles purchased one lot immediately to the south of the property in dispute and built a house thereon. In 1993, the Booths purchased two separate, but adjoining, lots southeast of the real property in dispute. No restrictive covenants were recorded in plaintiffs' deeds.

In 1998, Sturhahn purchased the 13-acre tract of land presently in dispute (hereinafter Sturhahn's property). At that time, the entire subdivision, including Sturhahn's property, was zoned as R-2 (family residence) strictly for residential use. After his purchase, Sturhahn sought and obtained a zoning change from the zoning commission, which reclassified Sturhahn's property as B-3 (highway business district) and enabled Sturhahn to construct a commercial building to serve as a large animal veterinary clinic. Thereafter, Sturhahn vacated the plat to the subdivision and replatted the 13 acres that he purchased into a new subdivision called Sturhahn Timber Creek, containing 11 lots, each being in excess of one-half acre. Plaintiffs' ingress and egress was unaffected by Sturhahn's new plans.

The property adjacent to the entire northern boundary of Sturhahn's property is zoned B-3 and is presently used for several commercial purposes. Adjacent to the Sturhahn property in the northwest corner is a Wal-Mart store. Directly to the west of Wal-Mart, across the street, is a grocery store. Adjacent to the Sturhahn property, in the northeast corner, is an outdoor live animal auction business. On the eastern edge of Sturhahn's property is the Pike County Housing Authority, which is zoned R-3 (multifamily residence). Along the southern boundary of Sturhahn's property is the remainder of Rolling Meadows Third Addition, in which plaintiffs' houses are located and which is still zoned R-2.

In August 1998, plaintiffs filed a single-count complaint for declaratory judgment objecting to the zoning reclassification of real property purchased by Sturhahn in plaintiffs' residential subdivision. Plaintiffs' original complaint asked the trial court to declare the zoning ordinance to be "spot-zoning, arbitrary, capricious, unconstitutional, and thus invalid."

In August 1999, the trial court granted plaintiffs' motion for leave to file an amended complaint in which plaintiffs added two additional counts, arguing that (1) the trial court should enjoin the zoning reclassification as an improper vacatur of the existing plat in violation of the Plat Act (765 ILCS 205/0.01 through 14 (West 1998)) and (2) such zoning reclassification violates the implied restrictive covenant requiring owners to use property owned within the Rolling Meadows Third Addition subdivision for residential purposes. In October 1999, defendant City of Pittsfield filed a motion to dismiss counts II and III of plaintiffs' amended complaint. That same month, the trial court dismissed counts II and III of the amended complaint.

In November 1999, Sturhahn filed a motion for summary judgment as to count I, which defendant City of Pittsfield adopted. In December 1999, the trial court conducted a hearing on Sturhahn's motion for summary judgment. On March 30, 2000, the trial court granted the motion for summary judgment. On April 27, 2000, plaintiffs filed a motion to reconsider the granting of summary judgment and the dismissal of counts II and III. On June 14, 2000, the trial court denied plaintiffs' motion to reconsider. Plaintiffs appealed.

On appeal, plaintiffs argued the trial court erroneously granted summary judgment in favor of Sturhahn and dismissed counts II and III of plaintiffs' complaint. We affirmed the trial court's judgment granting summary judgment, finding that no genuine issue of material fact remained and the trial court did not apply the law incorrectly. We reversed the trial court's dismissal of counts II and III and remanded the cause for further action. As to count II, we found that plaintiffs' claim that they purchased their lots, and improved their lots with residences, in reliance on the representations in the plat that (1) they would be surrounded by other residences and (2) Sunset Drive and Hackney Lane would be located as platted, preventing access to the commercial areas to the north, was sufficient to state a cause of action under the Plat Act. Ruble, slip order at 18. As to count III, we found that all the deeds at issue contained some reference to the subdivision and/or plat. As such, plaintiffs pleaded sufficient facts to state a cause of action for the violation of implied restrictive covenants. Ruble, slip order at 20.

On September 5, 2002, Sturhahn filed a motion for summary judgment on counts II and III of plaintiffs' amended complaint. On October 10, 2002, a hearing was held on Sturhahn's motion. On December 19, 2002, in an order, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Sturhahn, finding no genuine issues of material fact remained as to count II or count III. Specifically, as to count II, violations of the Plat Act, the court found that plaintiffs did not show any violation of the Plat Act as they were not specially or peculiarly injured by vacation of a portion of the Rolling Meadows Third Addition plat. Further, the court found that plaintiffs did not suffer any deprivation of their legal rights and privileges or show that any public streets had been closed adjacent to their property affecting access of ingress and egress to their property. As to count III, violations of restrictive covenants, the court found there was no general plan of development or implied covenants created in Rolling Meadows Third Addition, no restrictions in deeds given to any lot owner in the Rolling Meadows Third Addition subdivision, no restrictive ...


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