City of Town and Country v. St. Louis County

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri
Citation657 S.W.2d 598
Docket NumberNo. 64430,64430
PartiesCITY OF TOWN AND COUNTRY, Respondent, v. ST. LOUIS COUNTY, et al., Intervenors-Appellants.
Decision Date20 September 1983

Page 598

657 S.W.2d 598
ST. LOUIS COUNTY, et al., Intervenors-Appellants.
No. 64430.
Supreme Court of Missouri,
En Banc.
Sept. 20, 1983.
Rehearing Denied Oct. 18, 1983.

Page 600

Thomas W. Wehrle, Andrew J. Minardi, Cynthia Garnholz, Clayton, Mark R. Gale, Michael E. Wilson, Greensfelder, Hemker, Wiese, Gale & Chappelon, St. Louis, Albert A. Michenfelder, Ziercher, Hocker, Human, Michenfelder, Nations & Jones, Clayton, Steven W. Koslovsky, Ziercher, Hocker, Human, Michenfelder, Nations & Jones, Clayton, Albert H. Hamel, Lashly, Caruthers, Baer & Hamel, St. Louis, Donald Stohr, Thompson & Mitchell, St. Louis, for intervenors-appellants.

Shulamith Simon, Husch, Eppenberger, Donohue, Elson & Cornfeld, St. Louis, for respondent.

John E. Bardgett, Guilfoil, Petzall & Shoemake, St. Louis, for amici curiae.


The City of Town and Country, Missouri, sought to annex three contiguous parcels of land adjacent to that city. In an appropriate declaratory judgment action brought subsequent to the statutorily required "referendums" of residents in affected areas, the trial court entered a judgment which approved the annexations. The Court of Appeals reversed on a rationale attributed to the Graeler cases. City of Olivette v. Graeler, 338 S.W.2d 827 (Mo.1960), "Graeler I". City of Olivette v. Graeler, 369 S.W.2d 85 (Mo.1963), "Graeler II". The case was transferred by this Court to determine the present vitality of the Graeler cases, given subsequent legislative enactments concerning annexation proceedings. §§ 71.015, 71.870, RSMo 1978. The Court determines that these statutes have altered application of the holding of the Graeler cases. Under the scope and standard of judicial review applicable to this annexation proceeding, the annexations are valid, and the decision of the trial court is affirmed.

All appellants assert in some fashion that the trial court erred by failure to consider

Page 601

the interests of St. Louis County as a whole, either through failure to consider adequately the nature and extent of governmental and residential services offered by the County and City of Town and Country, respectively, or because of its determination that the City had demonstrated that the reasonableness of the annexation was fairly debatable.

The trial court's findings of fact arise from a voluminous record. They are uncontested on appeal and, paraphrased as follows, suffice to state this case.

The City of Town and Country is a municipal corporation organized and existing under the laws of the State of Missouri as a City of the fourth class in St. Louis County, Missouri. On February 24, 1977, it adopted resolutions declaring its desire to annex the property designated in each resolution and scheduling an election to be held on the proposal to annex on April 5, 1977. Certified copies of the resolutions were delivered to the St. Louis County Council and Board of Election Commissioners of St. Louis County on February 25, 1977.

Notices of the election on each annexation proposition and on each proposition concerning the furnishing of fire protection, as provided in section 321.650, RSMo 1978, within each of the areas proposed for annexation were duly published. Ballot forms in accordance with the applicable statutory provisions were provided for such elections. The question of annexation received favorable majorities in the annexing City and in each of the unincorporated areas sought to be annexed.

The existing city limits of the City are adjacent to each of the parcels proposed for annexation. In its selection of defendants as representatives of the class of inhabitants of each unincorporated area, the City took into consideration the diverse interests, in terms of land use, nature of development, size, geographical location and position on the annexation proposition.

Police, fire and ambulance services are provided by and through the Department of Public Safety of the City of Town and Country. As of the commencement of trial, the Department consisted of a thirteen man staff. An additional officer had been hired and was scheduled to start January 24, 1979. The Chief has training in both police and fire functions. Each of the officers of the Department has had experience and training in police and fire protection. The City has a mutual aid contract for fire protection with all municipal fire departments and fire protection districts within St. Louis County. It also has a mutual aid contract with all municipalities in St. Louis County and the City of St. Louis for cooperative police services. The City utilizes the I.D. and laboratory facilities of the County Police Department. The Department has two fire pumpers, one 1500 g.p.m. and one 750 g.p.m., both equipped with standard fire and life saving equipment. It has two marked police vehicles containing various items of police and emergency equipment and a third unmarked vehicle which is used by the Chief. Ambulance service is provided through an arrangement with the City of Des Peres and the Creve Coeur Fire Protection District. The City also has access to the county-wide ambulance facility. For 1979, the City provided the sum of $39,000.00 in its budget for the funding of a contract for ambulance services. The City presently provides police and fire protection service to the Village of Country Life Acres and to the City of Crystal Lake Park under contract. The City was also providing by contract fire protection to the Principia area of Parcel 1, bounded by the existing City limits, Highway 40, Mason Road and Clayton Road.

The City maintains the public roads within its city limits, Clayton Road east of Ballas, Topping, Barrett Station and Bopp Roads. The balance of Clayton Road, west of Ballas, Ballas Road, Highway 270 and Highway 40 are state maintained. On the public roads maintained by the City, the City provides snow and ice removal, street signs, weed control and repair and improvement work. The City also provides snow and ice removal on private streets and street signs at the intersections of the private

Page 602

roads and major streets for public safety purposes.

The City has a zoning ordinance and a subdivision ordinance which it administers throughout the City. The City has a Planning and Zoning Commission which makes recommendations to the Board of Aldermen on applications for rezonings and special permits and performs functions designated for it under the zoning ordinance. In the administration of the subdivision ordinance, the Commission reviews preliminary and final plats and has the assistance of the City's consulting engineer who reviews plats and subdivision improvement plans. The City has a Board of Adjustment which has jurisdiction over appeals from actions of the Building Commissioner and requests for variances under the zoning ordinance.

The City has a building code, which incorporates the 1975 BOCA Codes, including the Basic Building Code, Basic Fire Protection Code and Basic Mechanical Code. The Building Code is administered by the Building Commissioner of the City of Town and Country. Building plans are also reviewed by the fire marshal of the City. The City has adopted as its codes the electrical, plumbing and elevator codes of St. Louis County. The City has a contract with St. Louis County for the administration of such ordinances by the St. Louis County Department of Public Works.

The City has contracts with St. Louis County for mosquito control, rabies control, septic tank and food inspection and general health services. The City has an advisory Health Commissioner for liaison with the County Health Department.

The City has a contract with St. Louis County for property tax collection. The City maintains its records, issues licenses and permits as required under its ordinances.

The major portion of the City has been developed for single family residential purposes. The City contains a number of institutional uses, a hospital, public and private schools and churches. Various public utility facilities are located within City, including a water tower of St. Louis County Water Company and a Union Electric Substation. Facilities of the State Highway Department are also located within Town and Country. There are several private recreational facilities located within the City, a golf course, racquet club, and private subdivision facilities. The commercial uses within the City are primarily contained in several office buildings, at the Ballas-Highway 40 intersection and at the northwest corner of Clayton and Ballas. Various retail and service facilities are located within these buildings. There are commercial uses on the remaining corners of the Clayton-Ballas intersection.

Town and Country was originally incorporated in 1950 as a village, comprising 748 acres. Since its original incorporation, it has perfected two annexations during the 1950s. As a result of such annexations, the size of the City has grown to 2,670 acres. The City's assessed valuation has grown from $576,356.00 in 1950 to $24,855,646.00 in 1978. The City's population in 1950 was 162. The 1960 and 1970 census indicated growth to populations of 1,440 and 2,645. The population ranges for the City as of early 1977 were 2,730 (County witness) and 3,215 (City estimate). These population estimates did not include the population from the additional homes constructed in 1977 and 1978. As of December 31, 1978, the City had a cash balance of $153,905.36. This sum included the sum of $30,733.11, representing taxes collected for expenditure in 1979. As of December 31, 1978, the City had accounts payable of $23,026.55 and a payroll tax liability of $4,591.65.

Certain residents of the unincorporated area adjacent to the City requested they be annexed, and a committee was appointed by the mayor of Town and Country to study their proposal. This Committee, the Ad Hoc Committee on Annexation, investigated general information...

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