The Law Q&A | The boundaries of forcible annexation

The Law Q&A | The boundaries of forcible annexation

In the news recently is an East Central Illinois village voting to annex properties of homeowners whose properties are not currently within the boundaries of the village. The owners proclaim objection to the act of annexation.

Can a city or village forcibly annex your property, thereafter subjecting you to city real estate taxes?

Generally, a city can only forcibly annex property if it is adjacent to the city's boundary and is wholly bounded by one or more cities or is wholly bounded by cities and the state line (including being bounded by rivers or lakes in counties of certain larger sizes).

Forcible annexation can also be done when the territory to be annexed is wholly bounded by municipalities and a forest preserve district or park district.

However, annexation cannot be had to the surrounded territory if it is more than 60 acres. Thus, if your house lot is surrounded by other house lots, and the sum of the size of the encirclement of all the house lots is more than 60 acres, you are safe under the current legislation in Illinois.

But, forcible annexation of unsurrounded adjacent territory might also happen if, for example, the majority of the owners of such territory are discharging untreated sanitary sewage into the wells that serve the city.

Property owners who want to join a city can do so by filing a request to be incorporated when their property becomes adjacent to the city in question.

The public policy behind forceful annexation is to prevent enclaves arising which might interfere with the orderly growth of cities because of the geographic disruption to the flow of city infrastructure and services.

It's tit for tat. While you may start paying higher property taxes because of the annexation, you will get city police and fire protection, and possibly sanitary sewage service. But the argument against forcible annexation is the American sanctity of land ownership free from the unwanted intrusions of the tyrant king. Hence the 60-acre exception is a policy counterbalance.

Most annexations of growing municipalities occur whereby a subdivision developer, while owning the entire parcel outside the city, signs an agreement with the city that, in exchange for the city agreeing to provide sewer service to the properties in question upon development, the owner agrees that annexation shall be had to each lot once such lot becomes contiguous to the city.

That agreement can be made binding on the subsequent lot buyers from the developer. Developers do this in part because they otherwise won't be able to market their lots for as high a price if there is no sanitary service immediately provided. What, you mean I gotta put in a septic tank?

The objection raised by the owners adjacent to the East Central Illinois village has to do with whether the unincorporated territory is properly wholly bounded under the requirements of the annexation statute.

We shall see.

Meanwhile the Cubs wholly bounded the Cardinals with outstanding baseball play in their recent series clash in Chicago. The only things forcibly annexed there were the Cardinals' pitches to the sweet spot of the Cubs' bats.

Brett Kepley is a lawyer with Land of Lincoln Legal Aid Inc. You can send your questions to The Law Q&A, 302 N. First St., Champaign, IL 61820. Questions may be edited for space.