Bond v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore

Decision Date24 November 1911
Citation82 A. 978,116 Md. 683
CourtMaryland Court of Appeals

Appeal from Circuit Court No. 2 of Baltimore City; James P. Gorter Judge.

Injunction by Duke Bond against the Mayor and City Council of City of Baltimore and others. From a judgment on demurrer dismissing the bill, the plaintiff appeals. Affirmed.


Robertson Griswold and Charles A. Marshall, for appellant. S. S. Field for appellees.


On the 26th of July, 1911, the appellant filed a bill in circuit court No. 2 of Baltimore city against the appellees for an injunction, upon the averments and for the purposes set out in the bill of complaint.

The object of the bill was to restrain and enjoin the appellees from selling certain stock of the city of Baltimore for the improvement of Jones' Falls in that city, and known as "the Jones' Falls Improvement Loan."

The bill charges that both the Act of Assembly 1910, chapter 110, and the ordinance of the mayor and city council of Baltimore, approved June 13, 1910 (Ordinance No. 555), authorizing the issuance of this stock by the city, are unconstitutional; and the stock thus issued under the act and ordinance, being unauthorized, would be illegal and of no effect. A demurrer, filed by the appellees, to the bill was sustained, and the bill dismissed by the court below; and it is this ruling of the court that is now before us for review on this appeal.

The invalidity and unconstitutionality of the act of Assembly and of the ordinance in question, authorizing the stock issue, are urged and based upon two grounds: (1) The act is alleged to be unconstitutional, because it is in conflict with article 3, § 29, of the Constitution of Maryland, which directs that every law enacted by the General Assembly shall embrace but one subject, and that shall be described in its title. (2) Because it authorizes the taking of private property for uses other than public, and is therefore in conflict with section 40 of article 3 of the Constitution, which provides that the General Assembly shall enact no law authorizing private property to be taken for public use, without just compensation, as agreed upon between the parties or awarded by a jury, being first paid or tendered to the party entitled to said compensation.

The validity of the ordinance is also assailed upon the same grounds that are made to the act of Assembly, with the additional objection that the ordinance attempts to create a debt on the part of the mayor and city council of Baltimore, which debt has never been authorized by the General Assembly, and is in direct violation of section 7 of article 11 of the Constitution of Maryland.

The first inquiry, then, resolves itself to this: Does the act of the Legislature here attacked embrace more than one subject, and is the subject-matter of the act of Assembly properly described in its title?

The act in question is entitled: "An act to authorize the mayor and city council of Baltimore to open, construct and establish a public highway in the city of Baltimore over, along and near Jones' Falls, in the city of Baltimore, and to acquire by purchase or otherwise the property in and adjacent to said highway, and to dispose of property so acquired not in bed of said highway, and to protect, establish and construct such other highways, public improvements or reservations as may from time to time be authorized and approved by ordinance of the mayor and city council of Baltimore; and to authorize the mayor and city council of Baltimore to issue its stock to an amount not exceeding one million ($1,000,000) dollars, in order to provide the money for carrying into effect the improvements and plans above mentioned and authorizing, and to authorize the submission of an ordinance to that end to the legal voters of the city of Baltimore and to authorize the delegation by the mayor and city council of Baltimore to the 'commissioners on city plan' of any of the powers conferred on said mayor and city council of Baltimore by chapter 166 of the Acts of Assembly of 1908."

Section 1 of the act provides that the mayor and city council of Baltimore be, and it is hereby, authorized and empowered to open, construct, and establish a public highway in the city of Baltimore, beginning at or near the northerly end of the city docks, and running thence northerly along, adjoining, or over the bed of Jones' Falls, with a division or divisions from said falls, and with connection with streets crossing said highway, or running near it to Mt. Royal avenue, at or near its junction with Oliver street or Guilford avenue, and to acquire for said purposes landed or other property in the bed of said highway, and adjacent thereto on either or both sides thereof.

Section 2 declares that, before proceeding to open and construct the highway, including the acquiring of property adjacent thereto, the mayor and city council of Baltimore shall, by ordinance, provide therefor; and there shall be designated upon a proper plat the property, landed or other, that is to be acquired in, along, or adjacent to the highway.

Section 3, in substance, authorizes and empowers the mayor and city council of Baltimore to delegate to the commission, known as "the commission on city plan," the duty and power of constructing the highway, and to confer by ordinance on the commission the power to condemn and acquire by purchase or condemnation the lands and property mentioned in the last preceding section of the act, and such other powers possessed by the mayor and city council of Baltimore, relating to the subject-matter of the act.

Section 4 provides that any landed or other property acquired under the provisions of this act, excepting lands lying in the bed of said highway, may, after said highway has been laid out, be sold by the mayor and city council of Baltimore or said commission, if power to make such sales be, as it may be, delegated by ordinance to said commission for such prices, at such times, and on such terms as may by ordinance be provided. The moneys arising from such sales are to be paid into the city treasury and kept apart as a separate fund, to be known as "Commission on City Plan Fund," and are to be exclusively used by said "commission on city plan" for such public improvements as may be approved by said commission and authorized by ordinance of the mayor and city council of Baltimore.

The fifth section provides for the funds for the opening, constructing, and establishing of the highway and purchasing and acquiring the property for the highway authorized by section 1 of the act.

It will be thus seen, from an examination of the title of the act and of the act itself, that the subject-matter of the legislation proposed by the...

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