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City of Centralia v. Garland

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fifth District

August 9, 2019

THE CITY OF CENTRALIA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
DOYLE GARLAND, Defendant-Appellant. THE CITY OF CENTRALIA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
MATTHEW MANFUCCI, Defendant-Appellant. THE CITY OF CENTRALIA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JAY O'BRIST, Defendant-Appellant. THE CITY OF CENTRALIA, Plaintiff-Appellee, v.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Marion County. Nos. 17-MR-54, 17-MR-57, 17-MR-59, 17-MR-60 Honorable Michael D. McHaney, Judge, presiding.

          Attorney for Appellants B. Jay Dowling, Clayborne Sabo and Wagner LLP

          Attorneys for Appellee Douglas C. Gruenke, John P. Long, Bruckert, Gruenke & Long, P.C.

          JUSTICE MOORE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Overstreet and Justice Boie concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          MOORE, JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 In this consolidated appeal, the defendants in each of the cases below appeal the August 10, 2018, orders of the circuit court of Marion County that, inter alia, granted the motions for summary judgment in favor of the City of Centralia (City) on the City's complaints for removal of the defendants' boat docks from Lake Centralia. On appeal, the defendants argue that the circuit court erred in granting the summary judgments in favor of the City because a question of material fact exists as to whether the City has extraterritorial jurisdiction to acquire, retain ownership of, and regulate Lake Centralia. During the course of this appeal, the City filed a motion requesting that this court take judicial notice of certain public records, which this court ordered to be taken with the case. In their reply brief, the defendants request this court take judicial notice of other public records. For the following reasons, we grant the City's motion and the defendants' request to take judicial notice of the respective public records and affirm the judgments of the circuit court.

         ¶ 2 FACTS

         ¶ 3 On April 28, 2017, the City filed complaints against the defendants requesting an order allowing the City to remove the defendants' boat docks from Lake Centralia at the defendants' expense. According to the complaints, the City owns Lake Centralia, and the defendants own adjacent property and boat docks in Lake Centralia. Citing section 20-66 of its municipal code (Centralia Municipal Code § 20-66 (amended Oct. 13, 2015)), the City alleged that the defendants had failed to register their boat docks or pay the associated annual permit fees for 2016 or 2017.[1] The complaints alleged that the City manager had sent letters to the defendants on or about February 1, 2017, informing them of their failure to register and pay the annual fees and placing them on notice that their docks would be removed at their expense if they did not comply with these requirements. The City requested that the circuit court authorize the City to remove the boat docks in question and order the defendants to reimburse the City for the cost of the removal.

         ¶ 4 On January 29, 2018, the City filed motions for summary judgment requesting judgment in its favor on each of the complaints. Exhibit A to the City's motions is the request to admit facts that the City had served on the defendants in each underlying case, wherein each defendant admitted that he or she owned the respective boat docks in question and had failed to register the docks or pay the annual fees as alleged in the complaints. Exhibit B to the City's motions is the affidavit of City manager Dan Ramey, in which he avers that the City is a municipal corporation and utilizes Lake Centralia, at least in part, for waterworks and for recreational purposes.

         ¶ 5 On July 6, 2018, the defendants filed responses to the City's motions for summary judgment. The defendants attached, as exhibits to their responses, the depositions of the City's director of public works, as well as a retired utility superintendent for the City. These witnesses testified as to the history of the City's use of Lake Centralia for waterworks and its work to maintain the banks of the lake, as well as inspection of the docks and the dam. The witnesses testified that Lake Centralia is, at present, only used as a second backup water source for the City, having not been used for drinking water since the 1980s. The defendants argued in their responses that summary judgments were improper because there are questions of fact as to whether the City has the authority to regulate Lake Centralia.

         ¶ 6 On August 1, 2018, the defendants filed motions for leave to amend their answer and affirmative defenses, as well as to file counterclaims for a declaratory judgment. The defendants' proposed affirmative defenses and counterclaims are premised on the defendants' argument that Lake Centralia is outside of the city limits and that the City's municipal ordinances purporting to regulate the defendants' boat docks exceed the City's jurisdictional and statutory authority. On August 9, 2018, the circuit court held a hearing on all pending motions, including the defendants' motions for leave to amend and to file counterclaims, as well as the City's motions for summary judgment.

         ¶ 7 On August 10, 2018, the circuit court entered detailed written orders on the City's motions for summary judgment. After rendering its legal conclusions, to be detailed below, the circuit court ordered that (1) the defendants' motions for leave to file amended answers, amended affirmative defenses, and counterclaims were granted; (2) the City's motions for attorney fees were denied; (3) the City's motions for summary judgment were granted; (4) the City was authorized to remove the boat docks at issue; (5) the cost of removal of the boat docks shall be assessed against the defendants; and (6) the circuit court would retain jurisdiction of these matters for the purpose of entering money judgments against the defendants for the cost of removal of the boat docks. The circuit court entered a finding, pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 304(a) (eff. Mar. 8, 2016), that there was no just reason for delaying either enforcement or appeal or both.[2]

         ¶ 8 On September 10, 2018, the defendants filed notices of appeal. On December 14, 2018, the defendants filed a motion to consolidate the appeals, which this court granted. In their reply brief, the defendants requested this court to take judicial notice of a report of proceedings of the City, which took place in 1893, wherein the City elected to incorporate under an 1872 act to provide for the incorporation of cities and villages (Cities and Villages Act) (1871-72 Ill. Laws 218). On May 22, 2019, the City filed a motion requesting that this court take judicial notice of certified copies of a quitclaim deed, dated August 27, 1926, by which the Centralia Water Supply Company conveyed Lake Centralia to the City, as well as records of the Secretary of State showing that Centralia Water Supply Company dissolved on November 29, 1926. Neither party has objected to the other's request regarding judicial notice. This court ordered the City's motion for judicial notice to be taken with the case.

         ¶ 9 ANALYSIS

         ¶ 10 Before turning to the merits of the defendants' appeal, we address the parties' requests that we take judicial notice of the public records indicated above. It is well-established that this court can take judicial notice of matters that are readily verifiable from sources of indisputable accuracy, such as public records. See People v. Mata,217 Ill.2d 535, 539-40 (2005) (citing People v. Henderson,171 Ill.2d 124, 134 (1996)). Neither party disputes that the records that are the subject of the other's request are public records. Accordingly, we grant the defendants' request, as set forth in their reply brief, that this court take judicial notice of proceedings of the City, taking place in 1893, wherein the City elected to incorporate under the Cities and Villages Act (1871-72 Ill. Laws 218). In addition, we grant the City's motion, which was taken with the case, that this court take judicial notice ...


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