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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Annexation Dispute Between Villages Decided

Palos Park and Lemont have been involved in an annexation dispute for the past couple of years. Recently, the appellate court ruled in favor of Palos Park, upholding that community's annexation of three private golf courses and other land comprising about 1,500 acres lying between the two communities. In re Petition to Annex, 2017 IL App (1st) 170941.

In 2015, voluntary annexation petitions were filed by the golf courses and owners of other land to annex their properties to Palos Park. While those petitions were pending, on December 14, 2015, Palos Park annexed certain forest preserve property that would create the necessary contiguity to annex the golf courses. Just a few days earlier, residential owners filed a forcible annexation petition with the circuit court to annex their properties, consisting of about 117 acres, to Lemont. According to the court ruling, the purpose of the forcible annexation proceeding was to thwart contiguity for the Palos Park annexations.  

While the forcible annexation proceeding was still ongoing, Palos Park adopted annexation ordinances to annex the golf courses and other land. Palos Park argued that  its annexations have priority over the forcible annexation proceeding involving Lemont. 

The appellate court examined the two annexation proceedings (Palos Park's voluntary process and Lemont's forcible proceeding) to determine which had priority. Lemont argued that the Palos Park process had been "abandoned" because of the time lapse between the filing of the annexation petitions by the owners and the action by Palos Park in approving annexation ordinances. The court rejected that argument, finding that the  parties to the voluntary annexation process had proceeded in a "sustained and consistent action to advance the 2015 voluntary petitions." 

The court also rejected the argument that prompt action by the corporate authorities after the filing of an annexation petition is required, finding that the law only requires "some action" by the corporate authorities or evidence showing why action was delayed. Here, Palos Park's process included an extended negotiation of the terms of an annexation agreement, discussions about water and sewer service, and various other meetings and discussions between the parties, including the annexation of the forest preserve property that established contiguity.  In sum, the court found that Palos Park's voluntary annexation process had not been abandoned, and as a result, it had priority over Lemont's forcible annexation process.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf

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