City of Woodson Terrace v. Herklotz, 30712

Decision Date19 September 1961
Docket NumberNo. 30712,30712
PartiesCITY OF WOODSON TERRACE, a municipal corporation, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Harry HERKLOTZ, Adela Herklotz, Harriet Herklotz, John Vasquez, Dorothy Vasquez, Helen Mae Wahler, and Ruth Rosalie Kinney, individually and as representatives of a class, Defendants-Appellants, Village of Edmundson, Defendant-Intervenor.
CourtMissouri Court of Appeals

Robert Nagel Jones, St. Louis, for appellants.

John B. Gray, Clayton, for respondent.

Hale W. Brown, Kirkwood, for intervenor.

PAUL VAN OSDOL, Special Commissioner.

In this action, plaintiff City of Woodson Terrace, a city of the fourth class in St. Louis County, seeks the remedy of a declaratory judgment in connection with and in judicial confirmation of its proposal to annex forty-four acres of land, now used for agriculture, under the statute commonly known as the Sawyer Act, Sec. 71.015 RSMo 1959, V.A.M.S. The owners of the land who reside thereon, individually and as representatives of a class, were made parties defendant. They resist the annexation. And, on motion, the Village of Edmundson was permitted to intervene as a party defendant. A trial was had without a jury, and a declaratory judgment was rendered authorizing the annexation. Defendants, other than the Village of Edmundson, have appealed.

The statutory authority for the extention of the boundaries of a city of the fourth class is to be found in Sec. 79.020 RSMo 1959, V.A.M.S., which provides that the 'mayor and board of aldermen of such city * * * with the consent of a majority of the legal voters of such city * * * shall have power to extend the limits of the city over territory adjacent thereto * * *.' The conditions on which territories may be annexed to cities are provided in basic statutes such as Sec. 79.020, supra, and in the Sawyer Act which incorporates the remedy and procedure of the Declaratory Judgment Act.

In an action under the Sawyer Act, the petition must state facts showing the area to be annexed; that such annexation 'is reasonable and necessary to the proper development of said city;' and the ability of the city to furnish the normal municipal services of said city to the unincorporated area within a reasonable time after annexation is to be effective. The clause--'is reasonable and necessary to the proper development of said city'--embodies two separate but closely related concepts. They are (a) that the annexation is reasonable and (b) that the annexation is necessary to the proper development of the city. 'Both parties are entitled to the test of reasonableness', City of Olivette v. Graeler, Mo., 338 S.W.2d 827, at loc. cit. page 837.

While the aids or guides developed by the courts before the Sawyer Act are still helpful in arriving at a decision of the questions of fact specified, (see State ex inf. Major v. Kansas City, 233 Mo. 162, 134 S.W. 1007; and State ex inf. Taylor ex rel. Kansas City v. North Kansas City, 360 Mo. 374, 228 S.W.2d 762) nevertheless new laws and modern economic and social trends must be taken into consideration, and each case must be decided on its individual facts and circumstances; and in determining the essential questions of fact supporting the propriety or legality of the annexation, a court does not in any sense substitute its judgment or discretion for that of the legislative body of the city. If the evidence is such that reasonable men would differ as to the reasonableness and necessity of the annexation, then the decision of those questions is for the legislative body of the city and not for the courts. If the effect of the evidence is fairly debatable upon these matters, then either way the questions might be decided would not be unreasonable, City of Olivette v. Graeler, supra; City of St. Joseph v. Hankinson, Mo., 312 S.W.2d 4; City of Fulton v. Dawson, Mo.App., 325 S.W.2d 505.

Plaintiff city was incorporated as a village in 1946 and its limits then embraced a comparatively small irregular rectangular area in the southerly part of the City's present confines. In 1947, the population of the Village was seven hundred forty. The Village became a city of the fourth class in 1954, and its boundaries variously have been so extended that its present limits encompass an area several times that of the original Village. It was said that now (at the time of trial) City's population is between seven and eight thousand. In 1947, the assessed valuation of property subject to taxation by the then Village was $456,350--in 1959 the assessed valuation of property was $5,330,072. City's tax rate in 1959 was forty-seven cents, and it had a balance of $23,599 in its treasury as of April 30, 1960. City has no bonded indebtedness.

A church was built in the then Village of Woodson Terrace in 1953, a school in City in 1955, and a city hall and community building in 1957. The last-mentioned improvement provides adequate offices for City's officers; and supplies a meeting place for unofficial civic organizations as well as a place for the social meetings of teen-agers sponsored by the local 'Teen-Town' organization.

City has twelve trained police officers, of whom three are employed full-time. A City police officer rides City's streets twice around the clock seven days a week. City has and maintains a station-wagon ambulance, a motorcycle, first aid supplies, a stretcher, and a resuscitator. City provides free tri-weekly rubbish and garbage pick-up service. In addition to its elective executive and legislative officers, City has a clerk, a treasurer, street department staff, a planning and zoning commission, a board of adjustment, a park committee, a building commissioner, and a plumbing inspector.

Other than defendants' forty-four acre tract, there is no land, adjacent to City, that is not incorporated in other cities, town or villages. A witness said defendants' land 'is bounded on the north by the City of Woodson Terrace; on the east and south by (the City of) Woodson Terrace; on the west by the Village of Edmundson.' However, this is not entirely accurate. The boundary of the Village of Edmundson extends eastwardly along an approximate one-fourth of the north line of defendants' property.

In 1951, there was no commercial building in the Village, but now there is considerable commercial development principally centered on and along segments of City's streets--Woodson Road, Guthrie and Bataan. The northerly line of City lies along the south line of 'new Highway 70'--the Mark Twain, or Natural Bridge. A tract of land of about twenty-five acres, which we infer belongs to H. W. and Elizabeth Maurer, lies south of the highway and north of defendants' land. The Maurer tract (incorporated in the most northerly part of City) except for the Maurer residence and a commercial 'greenhouse operation' thereon is undeveloped. A witness for City explained that the Maurer property is not specially desirable for residential development because of its proximity to the highway and Lambert Municipal Airport to the northward thereof. For like reasons, an undeveloped tract of some fifteen acres lying along the south side of the highway in the more easterly part of City is not desirable for residential use. A third tract of eight or ten acres is zoned commercial. The three tracts severally are zoned either commercial or light industrial.

City's mayor testified that City is predominantly residential--comparatively small single-family dwellings--generally of one-story frame construction. In recent years some families have 'moved out' of City. This was because 'their homes had gotten too small for the size of their family and there was not development in this area with enough living space to meet their requirements.' The mayor spoke of the factors prompting the legislative body of City in making the move to annex defendants' land. One factor or reason was to 'square off' City's boundary. Another was to have some development for larger living space, as well as to control the development of the area. And he said, 'It would be much easier to police the entire City and govern our health regulations by having it (defendants' land) in the City * * *.' He also mentioned a 'much needed' park, a site for which a portion of defendants' land could be used. The mayor was of the opinion that City has the ability to provide the area with the normal municipal services of City immediately upon or within a reasonable time after the effective date of an annexation, and to expand such facilities or services commensurately with the future development of the area.

As we have said, defendants' property substantially is surrounded on its north, east and south sides by City. The east line of defendants' land abuts the west line of Woodson Road which passes through the approximate (somewhat to the eastward of the) center of City. Calvert Avenue, a north-south street in City, 'dead-ends' at the south line of plaintiff's land. But, as indicated, defendants' land is now and has been for years used for farming. A real-estate appraiser, witness for City, expressed the opinion that defendants' land used for agricultural purposes is worth six hundred dollars an acre. If utilized in its highest and best use, the land would be worth six thousand dollars an acre. Its best use would be 'residential subdivision', and possibly some commercial value would accrue to the Woodson Road frontage.

Defendants live on the southerly portion of their land in two substantial and attractive dwellings, one of frame and the other of brick construction. There are barns, sheds and tool sheds. Defendants have their own north-south private lane along or near the west side of the Maurer land. The lane provides passage to and from Natural Bridge. They have their own road-grading equipment and supply their own road-surfacing materials. They have their own plumbing facilities, modern plumbing fixtures and septic tanks with leaches. Should they need police protection, they ...

To continue reading

Request your trial
8 cases
  • City of O'Fallon v. Bethman
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • 13 Junio 1978
    ...v. Hankinson, 312 S.W.2d 4, 19 (Mo.1958); City of Fulton v. Dawson, 325 S.W.2d 505, 517-518 (Mo.App.1959); City of Woodson Terrace v. Herklotz, 349 S.W.2d 446, 452 (Mo.App.1961). In City of Perryville v. Brewer, 557 S.W.2d 457, 468 (Mo.App.1977), this court approved an annexation in which 2......
  • City of Aurora v. Empire Dist. Elec. Co., 7943
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • 14 Febrero 1962
    ...words, fairness to the citizens of the annexed territory who have no voice in the proceedings for annexation (City of Woodson Terrace v. Herklotz, Mo.App., 349 S.W.2d 446, 451; see Jones v. City of Ferguson, Mo.App., 164 S.W.2d 112, 119-120; Ozier v. City of Sheldon, Mo.App., 218 S.W.2d 133......
  • City of Ash Grove v. Davis
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • 28 Julio 1967
    ...are separate but closely related concepts (City of Olivette v. Graeler, Mo., 338 S.W.2d 827, 836--837(15); City of Woodson Terrace v. Herklotz, Mo.App., 349 S.W.2d 446, 448(1)), (3) that 'both parties,' i.e., both the city and property owners in the area sought to be annexed, are entitled t......
  • City of Olivette v. Graeler
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • 4 Junio 1963
    ...long considered. For similar interpretations see also City of houston v. Duff, Mo.App., 338 S.W.2d 373, and City of Woodson Terrace v. Herklotz, Mo.App., 349 S.W.2d 446. The language in City of St. Joseph v. Hankinson, Mo., 312 S.W.2d 4, 9 [6, 7] concerning 'necessity' was used in a discuss......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT