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JLR Investments, Inc. v. Village of Barrington Hills

January 21, 2005

JLR INVESTMENTS, INC., HOUSING RESOURCES COMPANY, L.L.C., AND GATEWAY COMPANY, L.L.C., PETITIONERS-APPELLEES,
v.
THE VILLAGE OF BARRINGTON HILLS, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of McHenry County. No. 01-MC-2. Honorable Michael J. Sullivan, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Bowman

PUBLISHED

Petitioners, JLR Investments, Inc. (JLR), Housing Resources Company, L.L.C. (Housing Resources), and Gateway Company, L.L.C. (Gateway), petitioned under section 7--3--6 of the Illinois Municipal Code (disconnection statute) (65 ILCS 5/7--3--6 (West 2002)) to disconnect property from the Village of Barrington Hills (Village) and connect the property to unincorporated McHenry County. The trial court granted their petition, and the Village appeals. We affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

On May 2, 2001, JLR petitioned to disconnect 368.3 acres of land (the property) from the Village, under the disconnection statute. The property is zoned as an "R-1" single-family residence district, as is over 90% of the Village. R-1 zoning requires single-family homes on lots of a minimum of five acres. The property contains three homes and six residents, and it represents about 2% of the Village's total area of 28 square miles.

The disconnection statute states, in relevant part:

"The owner or owners of record of any area of land consisting of one or more tracts, lying within the corporate limits of any municipality may have such territory disconnected which (1) contains 20 or more acres; (2) is located on the border of the municipality; (3) if disconnected, will not result in the isolation of any part of the municipality from the remainder of the municipality[;] (4) if disconnected, the growth prospects and plan and zoning ordinances, if any, of such municipality will not be unreasonably disrupted[;] (5) if disconnected, no substantial disruption will result to existing municipal service facilities, such as, but not limited to, sewer systems, street lighting, water mains, garbage collection and fire protection[;] (6) if disconnected the municipality will not be unduly harmed through loss of tax revenue in the future. The procedure for disconnection shall be as follows: The owner or owners of record of any such area of land shall file a petition in the circuit court of the county where the land is situated, alleging facts in support of the disconnection. The municipality from which disconnection is sought shall be made a defendant, and it, or any taxpayer residing in that municipality, may appear and defend against the petition. If the court finds that the allegations of the petition are true and that the area of land is entitled to disconnection it shall order the specified land disconnected from the designated municipality. If the circuit court finds that the allegations contained in the petition are not true, the court shall enter an order dismissing the petition." 65 ILCS 5/7--3--6 (West 2002).

The Village moved to dismiss the petition under section 2--619 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Code) (735 ILCS 5/2--619 (West 2000)), arguing that JLR had failed to submit a written petition to the Village plan commission (Commission) and zoning board of appeals (Zoning Board), as required by the Village code. The trial court denied the Village's motion.

JLR and Housing Resources filed an amended petition on September 13, 2001, adding Housing Resources as a petitioner. Petitioners filed a second amended petition on February 21, 2002, adding Gateway as a petitioner. A trial was held from September 15, 2003, through September 19, 2003. Prior to the trial, the Village stipulated that petitioners had established the first two requirements of the disconnection statute. Thus, the evidence at trial was limited to requirements three through six. On October 22, 2003, the trial court entered a memorandum opinion and order finding that petitioners had established these requirements by a preponderance of the evidence. The Village moved to reconsider, and on December 17, 2003, the trial court denied the motion. The Village timely appealed. The Village argues that the trial court erred by denying its motion to dismiss, ruling in favor of petitioners, and denying its motion to reconsider.

II. ANALYSIS

A. Motion to Dismiss

We first examine whether the trial court erred by denying the Village's motion to dismiss. The Village argues that the trial court should have dismissed the case because petitioners failed to comply with section 6--1--7 of the Village code (section 6--1--7) (Village of Barrington Hills Municipal Code §6--1--7 (1993)). We review de novo motions to dismiss under section 2--619 of the Code. Williams v. Davet, 345 Ill. App. 3d 595, 598 (2003).

Section 6--1--7 sets out the following procedure for disconnection. A property owner wishing to disconnect property from the Village must submit a written petition to the Commission and the Zoning Board. The petition must include an "inventory and analysis" of the property and surrounding land that considers:

"topography; soils and geology; waterways, wetlands and drainage; vegetation; wildlife; historic features; adjacent land uses and zoning; utilities and related easements; riding trails, roadways and traffic circulation; and other information critical to an understanding of the capability of the territory to accommodate development." Village of Barrington Hills Municipal Code §6--1--7(C)(2)(e) (1993).

The property owner must pay an initial retainer of $2,500 to cover Village costs for providing notice and reviewing the petition. The property owner must also pay filing fees of $250 for 10 acres, plus $100 for each additional five acres. The filing fees are limited to a maximum of $2,500 for 100 acres or less and $5,000 for 100 acres or more. Village of Barrington Hills Municipal Code §6--1--7(D) (1993).

The Commission and Zoning Board hold either a joint public hearing or separate public hearings on the petition. Village of Barrington Hills Municipal Code §6--1--7(G) (1993). They then submit separate written reports and recommendations to the Village board of trustees (Village of Barrington Hills Municipal Code §6--1--7(I), (J) (1993)), which will, in turn, pass a resolution approving or denying the petition (Village of Barrington Hills Municipal Code §6--1--7(K) (1993)). The property owner may appeal the board of trustees' decision by seeking review in the Cook County circuit court. Village of Barrington Hills Municipal Code §6--1--7(L) (1993).

Section 6--1--7 states that its provisions "shall supersede the disconnection provisions of sections 7-3-4 and 7-3-6 of the Illinois Municipal Code *** and shall constitute the sole and exclusive process and standards for disconnection of territory from the corporate limits of the Village of Barrington Hills." Village of Barrington Hills Municipal Code §6--1--7(A) (1993).

Petitioners argue that section 6--1--7 is invalid, citing La Salle National Trust, N.A. v. Village of Mettawa, 249 Ill. App. 3d 550 (1993). There, the Village of Mettawa (Mettawa) had an ordinance requiring that a disconnection question be put to a vote in Mettawa if a court found that the disconnection petition met statutory requirements. If the majority of residents voted against disconnection, there could be no further proceedings on the matter for at least 23 months. La Salle National Trust, 249 Ill. App. 3d at 573. The trial court ruled that the Mettawa ordinance was invalid and unenforceable, and this court affirmed. We held that (1) disconnection is a matter of statewide concern that exceeded Mettawa's home rule powers, and (2) the ordinance improperly interfered with the state judicial system. La Salle National Trust, 249 Ill. App. 3d at 577-78.

The Village argues that we should re-examine our reasoning in La Salle National Trust. The Village maintains that the State and home rule units have concurrent powers to regulate disconnection. We initially note that section 6--1--7 actually states that it "shall supercede" the disconnection statute and "constitute the sole and exclusive process and standards for disconnection of territory from" the Village. Village of Barrington Hills Municipal Code §6--1--7(A) (1993). However, an ordinance cannot add to, subtract from, or affect a statute's provisions, and if the ordinance conflicts with the statute, it is invalid. Constantine v. Village of Glen Ellyn, 217 Ill. App. 3d 4, 14 (1991). In any event, the Village maintains that disconnection ...


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