Sholl v. German Coal Co.

CourtSupreme Court of Illinois
Citation118 Ill. 427,59 Am.Rep. 379,10 N.E. 199
Decision Date25 January 1887

118 Ill. 427
10 N.E. 199
59 Am.Rep.


Supreme Court of Illinois.

January 25, 1887.

Error to county court, Peoria county.

Condemnation proceedings.

The use to which property is condemned must be public, though one individual of the public may derive greater benefit from its use and use it more than any other, yet the public must be free to use it if desired. Nesbitt v. Trumbo, 39 Ill. 116; Dunham v. Hyde Park, 75 Ill. 377. It is not discretionary with the legislature to say for what purposes land shall be taken; it is limited to a public use. East St. Louis v. St. John, 47 Ill. 466. It must clearly appear that the use for which it is sought to condemn land is a public one. Smith v. Chicago & W. I. Ry. Co., 105 Ill. 518. Tramways are private affairs for private use, and are not railroads in the sense of the declaration in the Illinois constitution that railroads are public highways for public use. Toledo, P. & W. Ry. Co. v. Pence, 68 Ill. 529; Chicago, R. I. & P. Ry. Co. v. Town of Lake, 71 Ill. 336; Koelle v. Knecht, 99 Ill. 397-404; Truesdale v. Grape S. Co., 101 Ill. 568; Ryerson v. Brown, 35 Mich. 338.

Statutes authorizing the exercise of eminent domain are subject to strict construction. Harding v. Goodlett, 3 Yerg. 40; Taylor v. Porter, 4 Hill, 140, 40 Amer. Dec. 281, and note; Embury v. Conner, 3 N. Y. 511. Acts of a legislature, authorizing private property to be taken or damaged for private use, are void. Woodruff v. North B. G. M. Co., 18 Fed. Rep. 733, 783; Bangor & P. Ry. Co. v. McComb, 60 Me. 290; Crear v. Crossly, 40 Ill. 175; Chicago, D. & C. Co. v. Garrity, 3 N. E. Rep. 449.

‘If the public interest can be in any way promoted by the taking of private property, it must rest in the wisdom of the legislature to determine whether the benefit to the public will be of sufficient importance to render it expedient for them to exercise the right of eminent domain, and to authorize an interference with the private rights of individuals for that purpose.’ Beekman v. Saratoga & S. Ry. Co., 3 Paige, 73; Willson v. Black Bird C. M. Co., 2 Pet. 251; Bloodgood v. Mohawk & H. R. Co., 18 Wend. 9; Cooley, Const. Lim. 533; Anderson v. Kerns D. Co., 14 Ind. 199; Reeves v. Treasurer Wood Co., 8 Ohio St. 344. ‘Public use’ is synonymous with public benefit or advantage. Olmstead v. Camp, 33 Conn. 550. It belongs to the legislative power of the government to determine for what public purposes private property shall be taken, and the necessity and expediency of such appropriation. Buffalo & N. Y. C. Ry. Co. v. Brainard, 9 N. Y. 109. To constitute a public use it is not necessary that the improvement should benefit the people of the whole state; but the direct public benefit contemplated may be confined to a particular community. Bloomfield, etc., Gas-light Co. v. Richardson, 63 Barb. 437; Dayton, etc., Min. Co. v. Seawell, 11 Nev. 394; Thorn v. Sweeney, 12 Nev. 255; Overman S. M. Co, v. Corcoran, 15 Nev. 149; Hand Gold Min. Co. v. Parker, 59 Ga. 419; Bankhead v. Brown, 25 Iowa, 547; Hays v. Risher, 32 Pa. St. 177; West Virginia Transp. Co. v. Volcanic O. & C. Co., 5 W. Va. 382.

Land may be condemned for the erection of booms. Patterson v. Boom Co., 3 Dill. 465; Lancaster v. Kennebec, etc., Co., 62 Me. 272; Lawler v. Baring Boom Co, 56 Me 443; Cotten v. Boom Co., 22 Minn. 372.

Proprietors of mill-sites may condemn lands. French v. Braintree Manuf'g Co., 23 Pick. 220; Wolcott Woollen Manuf'g Co. v. Upham, 5 Pick. 294; Hazen v. Essex Co., 12 Cush. 475; Andover v. Sutton, 12 Metc. 182; Boston, etc., Corp. v. Newman, 12 Pick. 467; Tyler v. Beacher, 44 Vt. 648; Scudder v. Trenton D. Falls Co., 1 N. J. Eq. 694; Olmstead v. Camp, 33 Conn. 532; Todd v. Austin, 34 Conn. 78; Harding v. Goodlett, 3 Yerg. 41; Miller v. Troost, 14 Minn. 365, (Gil. 282;) Harding v. Funk, 8 Kan. 315; Mills, Em. Dom. § 15; Cooley, Const. Lim. 534; Holyoke Co. v. Lyman, 15 Wall. 500; Ang. Water-courses, § 487; Fiske v. Framingham Manuf'g Co., 12 Pick. 68.

Land is taken for a public use whenever its taking is for the general public advantage. Cooley, Tax'n, 77; Ash v. Cummings, 50 N. H. 591; Jordan v. Woodward, 40 Me. 317; Burgess v. Clark, 13 Ired. 109; Trabue v. Macklin, 4 B. Mon. 407; County Court v. Griswold, 58 Mo. 175.

The expediency or necessity of exercising the right of eminent domain is a political and not a judicial question. Courts cannot inquire into the necessity or propriety of the exercise of the right. Chicago, R. I. & P. Ry. Co. v. Town of Lake, 71 Ill. 333; Lake Shore & M. S. Ry Co. v. Chicago & W. I. R. Co., 97 Ill. 506; Chicago v. Wright, 69 Ill. 318; Smith v. Chicago & w. I. R, Co., 105 Ill. 511; Bankhead v. Brown, 25 Iowa, 545; Spring v. Russell, 7 Greenl. 292; Sedg. St. & Const. Law, 511-514; Varick v. Smith, 5 Paige, 160; Mills, Em. Dom. § 11.

[118 Ill. 428]

B. S. Prettyman, for Sholl, plaintiff in error.

[118 Ill. 429]

Muckle & Whiting,...

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