Bank of Crestwood v. Gravois Bank

Decision Date11 May 1981
Docket NumberNo. 62179,62179
Citation616 S.W.2d 505
PartiesBANK OF CRESTWOOD, a Missouri Banking Corporation, Appellant, v. GRAVOIS BANK, a Missouri Banking Corporation, et al., Respondents.
CourtMissouri Supreme Court

Robert F. Schalfly, St. Louis, for appellant.

J. Anthony Dill, Gerre S. Langton, Evans & Dixon, St. Louis, for respondents.


The Bank of Crestwood (Crestwood) appeals from a judgment of the circuit court affirming an order of the State Banking Board (Banking Board) which approved the granting of a certificate of authority by the Commissioner (now Director) of Finance to Gravois Bank for the operation of a banking facility in St. Louis County. This cause was originally taken to the Court of Appeals, Eastern District, which reversed the circuit court. The cause was transferred to this Court for examination of the question raised which is one we deemed to be of general interest and a matter of first impression as to the statutes involved. Rule 83.03. The case is determined here as though on original appeal. Mo.Const. Art. V, § 10; Rule 83.09. We affirm the judgment of the Circuit Court.

The facts are simple and for the most part undisputed. Gravois Bank and the site for the proposed facility are both located in an unincorporated section of South St. Louis County. The Gravois Bank's main banking house is located at Heege and Gravois Roads in an area generally known as Affton. The proposed facility site is approximately four and one-half miles west of Gravois Bank's main banking house at 11659-85 Gravois Road in an area generally known as Sappington. Crestwood is located approximately one and one-half miles north of the proposed facility site. The standing of Crestwood in this action was established in Bank of Crestwood v. State Banking Board, 554 S.W.2d 519 (Mo.App. 1977), where it was ordered that the Banking Board conduct a hearing. Following the hearing, the Banking Board issued findings of fact, conclusions of law and its order confirming the Commissioner's issuance of a certificate of authority for Gravois Bank to operate a facility at the proposed site.

The Banking Board made the following findings of fact and conclusions of law:

4. Based on the record before the Board taken as a whole, the Board finds:

(a) Gravois Road is an historic artery of travel in South St. Louis County, Missouri, running southwest from the City of St. Louis through the City of Fenton, Missouri.

(b) In the late 1800's and the early 1900's, major family landholdings along Gravois Road were dissolved and the entire length of Gravois Road in St. Louis County was bordered almost exclusively by small farms and truck gardens. This agricultural community was populated primarily by persons of German ancestry who had many occupational and social connections.

(c) In the late 1800's the area located around the intersection of Gravois and Tesson Ferry Roads became known as Aff's town (later Affton) after a merchant who maintained a post office at that intersection. A short distance to the west on Gravois Road, the name Sappington was given to the area around the intersection of Gravois and Sappington Roads. The distance between Gravois Bank in the area known as Affton and the proposed facility site in the area known as Sappington is approximately 4.6 straight-line miles.

(d) Gravois Bank was chartered in 1913. Of its none initial directors, four came from the Sappington area. From and after the time of incorporation, Gravois Bank was the only bank located on Gravois Road between Grand Avenue in the City of St. Louis and the City of Fenton, located south of the Meramec River. From the time of its organization, many of the farming families and merchants in the area along Gravois Road in St. Louis County patronized the bank. The evidence presented to the Board shows that substantial numbers of persons in the unincorporated areas of Affton and Sappington along Gravois Road maintain deposit and loan accounts at the Gravois Bank. These accounts are substantially greater in dollar amount than accounts maintained with Gravois Bank by residents of the Lemay area which is geographically much closer to Gravois Bank and its existing facility. The banking habits of the residents of the Affton and Sappington areas suggest the existence of a community for banking purposes.

(e) Statistical data presented to the Board indicates that housing values and income levels throughout the entire area along Gravois Road in St. Louis County fall in the middle to upper middle categories. More than two-thirds of the entire working population of the area is engaged in white collar occupations and most workers of all classifications leave the area daily for commercial and industrial centers of St. Louis and St. Louis County for their employment. Most of the residential housing stock in this area is less than thirty years of age.

(f) Residents in the Affton and Sappington areas are in close proximity geographically and obtain most municipal type services from the same source, the charter government of St. Louis County. Emergency services are obtained through the same sources and all police services are rendered through the third precinct of the St. Louis County Police Department. An Affton school district and an Affton fire protection district exist as political subdivisions in the area. No political subdivision bearing the name Sappington exists. An examination of the boundaries of school districts and fire protection districts as well as non-legal boundaries such as postal zip codes, Catholic parish boundaries and census designated places shows that few boundaries coincide. This evidence leads the Board to conclude that each of such boundaries was drawn for reasons related to the purpose or objective of the political or social entity encompassed therein.

(g) In addition to the evidence relating to the common banking habits of the people in the places designated as Affton and Sappington, other credible evidence was presented to the Board by disinterested parties including a veteran locally elected official, a long-time community newspaper editor and a St. Louis County Planning Department professional staff member, each of which verified that common backgrounds, traits and concerns exist among the families populating the unincorporated areas of South St. Louis County and further that no valid basis existed for distinguishing between residents in the Affton and Sappington areas along Gravois Road in South St. Louis County.

(h) The Bank of Crestwood was incorporated in 1958. For over forty years prior to the incorporation of that bank, the Gravois Bank had served the Gravois Road community of people including both the Affton and Sappington areas. The relative proximity of the two locations and the substantial number of accounts representing people who have relied upon the Gravois Bank for banking services in the Sappington area lead the Board to believe that an unnecessarily restrictive interpretation of the term 'community' would render a disservice to the people who have been served by the Gravois Bank. Since the only issue before the Banking Board, by stipulation, is the interpretation of the term 'community,' it is clear that an interpretation which allows the Gravois Bank to continue to serve its customers in the Sappington area will contribute to the convenience and needs of the community which Gravois Bank has served and will continue to serve.


1. The judicial precedents to which the Board has been referred by counsel indicate that the legal concept of 'community' is a broad and flexible one and one which changes shape depending upon the purposes for which the term is applied.

2. The law under which the Commissioner of Finance approved the facility for Gravois Bank, Section 362.107, was designed to increase the convenience of banking services to the general public. It is the duty of the Banking Board to implement this statutory policy in its decisions.

3. The residents and businesses along Gravois Road surrounding the main banking house of the Gravois Bank and the proposed facility site of the Gravois Bank share a sufficient community of interests to constitute that area a single unincorporated community within the meaning of Section 362.107. The application of the Gravois Bank satisfies the statutory criteria set forth in Section 362.107, RSMo. Supp. 1975, and therefore, Certificate of Authority No. 310-A issued by the Commissioner of Finance for the operation of said banking facility was in all respects proper.

Following review by the Circuit Court of St. Louis County, the following judgment was entered:


This cause, having previously been taken under advisement on the 15th day of November, 1978, is again taken up for consideration on this 18th day of December, 1978; and the Court finds that the order and decision of the State Banking Board dated November 21, 1977, is not in excess of any statutory authority or jurisdiction of the State Banking Board; is supported by substantial and competent evidence upon the whole record; is not any reason unauthorized by law; is not arbitrary or capricisious; (sic) does not involve an abuse of discretion; and is lawful, reasonable, and proper in all respects.

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED, ADJUDGED, AND DECREED that the order and decision of the State Banking Board of November 21, 1977, be and the same is hereby affirmed. The costs of this action are taxed against plaintiff.

Our standards of review are clearly enunciated in Mo.Const. Art. V, § 18, 1 Rule 100.07(b), and § 536.140.2, RSMo 1978, 2 and has been recognized and stated with equal clarity by our courts:

A reviewing court is not authorized to weigh the evidence on which the decision of an administrative agency is based and make its own appraisal of the merits of the case by its own standards, and so to 'substitute its discretion for discretion legally vested in the...

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