Missouri Rural Elec. Co-op. v. City of Hannibal, 79031

Decision Date25 February 1997
Docket NumberNo. 79031,79031
PartiesMISSOURI RURAL ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE, Appellant, v. CITY OF HANNIBAL and The Attorney General for the State of Missouri, Respondents.
CourtMissouri Supreme Court

Patrick Baumhoer, J.W. Trimmer, Jefferson City, for Appellant.

Jeremiah W. (Jay) Nixon, Attorney General, Karen King Mitchell, Chief Appellate Counsel, Jefferson City, Randall P. Baker, Louis J. Leonatti, Mexico, Peter Danielson, Hannibal, for Respondents.

WHITE, Judge.

Missouri Rural Electric Cooperative (MREC) challenged Hannibal's attempted annexation of land that does not border on that city. The trial court entered judgment declaring the annexation to be valid. MREC argues the annexation is not authorized, since the parcel in question is not contiguous with the city limits. 1 MREC also argues that the statute relied upon by the city to accomplish the annexation is unconstitutional because it contains multiple subjects or departs from its original purpose. We do not decide the constitutionality of the statute because we find that the statutory language does not authorize annexation of land that is not contiguous to the annexing authority.

Section 71.012.1, RSMo, provides that "any city ... may annex unincorporated areas which are contiguous and compact to the existing corporate limits of the city...." In 1993 the following language was added:

The term "contiguous and compact" does not include a situation whereby the unincorporated area proposed to be annexed is contiguous to the annexing city ... only by a railroad line, trail, pipeline or other strip of real property less than one-quarter mile in width within the city ... so that the boundaries of the city ... after annexation would leave unincorporated areas between the annexed area and the prior boundaries of the city ... connected only by such railroad line, trail, pipeline or other such strip of real property. Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, the governing body of any city ... may annex areas along a road or highway up to two miles from existing boundaries of the city.... 2

Pursuant to section 71.012, Hannibal attempted to annex a tract of land that, at the time of annexation, did not touch the borders of the city. The land did lie upon a road connected to the city and, apparently, was less than two miles from the city limits. 3 The dispute in this case centers on the reading of the last sentence of the statute.

The city asserts that the last sentence of the statute imposes three requirements: 1) that the annexing authority be a city, 2) that the property lie a long a road or highway, and 3) that it be less than two miles from city boundaries. Since the annexation at issue here meets all three requirements, the city argues that it is proper under the plain language of the statute and that none of the rest of the statute needs to be examined. Although it suggests that the last sentence is an "alternative definition" of compact and contiguous, what the city is really arguing is that the statute creates an exception to the section's general requirement that annexed property be compact and contiguous to existing city limits.

MREC, in contrast, urges the Court to read the sentence as an exception to the general rule set up by the section that land connected to a city only by a strip of real property less than a quarter mile wide is not contiguous and compact to the city and may, therefore, not be annexed by it. Under this reading, the final sentence merely allows land connected to the city limits only by a road within the city to be considered compact and contiguous to the city as long as the connection is not more than two miles long.

Read in isolation, the final sentence is susceptible of the interpretation the city suggests. But we do not read statutes that way. The Court reads the entire statute and interprets it according to the legislative intent revealed by that reading. 4 Here, the intent of the section is to...

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4 cases
  • Spradlin v. City of Fulton
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • December 22, 1998
    ...is necessary. The ultimate guide in construing an ambiguous statute is the intent of the legislature. Missouri Rural Elec. Co-op. v. City of Hannibal, 938 S.W.2d 903, 905 n. 4 (Mo. banc 1997); Connor v. Monkem, 898 S.W.2d 89, 90 (Mo. banc The legislature's intent with respect to section 610......
  • Hutchison v. Vandenburg
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • November 12, 2002
    ...Instead, we read the entire statute and interpret it according to the intent revealed by that context. Missouri Rural Electric Cooperative v. City of Hannibal, 938 S.W.2d 903, 905 (Mo. banc Section 482.365.2 provides: Any party aggrieved by any final judgment rendered by a small claims cour......
  • Nike Ihm, Inc. v. Zimmerman, ED 82476.
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • October 14, 2003
    ...be construed in the full context of this statute, including the legislative intent behind the statute. See Missouri Rural Electric Cooperative v. City of Hannibal, 938 S.W.2d 903, 905 (Mo. banc 1997) ("The Court reads the entire statute and interprets it according to the legislative intent ......
  • Curtis v. City of Hillsboro
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • November 25, 2008
    ...use of the road as the "flagpole" of the flagpole annexation is authorized by a portion of Section 71.012 and Missouri Rural Elec. Co-op. v. City of Hannibal, 938 S.W.2d 903 (Mo. banc 1997). The portion of Section 71.012 relied on by the City Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, ......

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