Supreme Court Summaries

Opinions filed April 4, 2002

No. 87809 Southwestern Illinois Development Authority v. National City Environmental, L.L.C.

Appellate citation: 304 Ill. App. 3d 542.

Opinion by GARMAN, J.
FREEMAN, J., joined by McMORROW, J., dissenting

In St. Clair County, an auto racetrack known as Gateway International Raceway needed additional parking. Because of the parking problem, traffic on State Route 203 had been disrupted by crowds of people who were attempting to cross it, and there were backup problems on Interstate 55-70. Located next to the racetrack was land owned by a business that dismantled used cars and major appliances and which employed 80 to 100 persons full time. Unable to purchase the adjoining land so as to increase its parking, the racetrack approached a development authority which the legislature had established for Madison and St. Clair counties. The authority has the statutory power to condemn land for public purposes, and the enabling statute specifically stated that for-profit racetracks are among the projects that it could promote. After the condemnation, Gateway would purchase the land from the authority.

A quick-take condemnation proceeding ensued in 1998 and the land was taken by eminent domain. The condemnees appealed and were successful in the appellate court, which held that the taking was for a private rather than a public use, and was therefore not permissible. In an opinion issued on April 19, 2001, the Illinois Supreme Court overturned the appellate court. However, on June 4, 2001, the supreme court allowed rehearing.

In this decision on rehearing, the supreme court affirmed the appellate court, finding that the taking was not for a public use and was, therefore, unlawful. It noted that there was evidence that the racetrack could have built a parking garage, rather than expanding its ground parking, but that this would have cost the racetrack more money. The judgment of the appellate court, invalidating of the taking, was affirmed.