State v. Kansas City

Citation233 Mo. 162,134 S.W. 1007
PartiesSTATE ex inf. MAJOR, Atty. Gen., v. KANSAS CITY.
Decision Date09 February 1911
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri
134 S.W. 1007
233 Mo. 162
STATE ex inf. MAJOR, Atty. Gen.,
Supreme Court of Missouri.
February 9, 1911.
Rehearing Denied March 2, 1911.


Const. art. 9, § 16, providing that city charters may be amended by adoption of the proposed amendment by three-fifths of the qualified voters of the city voting at the election at which it is submitted, is self-executing, prohibitive, and not subject to change either by charter amendment by the city or by act of the General Assembly.


Const. art. 9, § 16, providing that a city charter may be amended by proposal duly accepted "by three-fifths of the qualified voters of such city voting at a general or special election, and not otherwise," limited the power of the city, so far as the requisite number of votes to adopt a charter amendment was concerned, to three-fifths of the qualified voters voting at the election at which the amendment was submitted, and the provision of Kansas City Charter, art. 1, § 7, requiring a vote of three-fifths of the voters of the city was invalid.


Const. art. 9, § 16, provides that a city charter may be amended, if, after publication of a proposed amendment for 30 days, it shall have been accepted by three-fifths of the qualified voters of the city voting at a general or special election. Kansas City Charter, art. 1, § 7, provided for the submission of amendments, requiring that they be accepted by three-fifths of the qualified voters of the city. Held, that the fact that the charter provision, so far as it required three-fifths of all the voters in the city as distinguished from three-fifths of the voters voting at the election, was invalid, did not invalidate the other provisions in the section.


An objection that the court in a quo warranto to review the validity of the extension of the limits of a city had no power to determine whether the extension was reasonable was waived, where not raised by a motion to strike the information by answer and return, or by exception to the findings.


A city may reasonably extend its limits so as to take in contiguous lands, when they are platted and held for sale as town lots; whether platted or not, if they are held to be sold as town property when they reach a value corresponding with the views of the owner; when they furnish an abode for a densely settled community, or represent the actual growth of the town; when they are needed for any proper town purposes, or for the extension of needed police regulations, and when such additional territory is valuable by reason of adaptability for prospective town uses; but the limits may not be extended to take in contiguous lands when they are used only for agriculture, or are valuable on account of such use, or when they are vacant and do not derive special value by adaptability for city uses.


In a quo warranto, on relation of the Attorney General, to determine the validity of an extension of the limits of a municipality, the only question reviewable is whether the city has acted within the law in accomplishing such extension.

[134 S.W. 1008]


Imposition of higher special and general taxes on property within the limits of a city does not constitute a valid objection to proceedings to extend the city limits, on the theory that such taxes constituted a taking of the owner's property without due process of law.


Facts held to sustain the finding of a commissioner in quo warranto proceedings that an ordinance extending the limits of Kansas City from 26.70 square miles to 57.75 square miles, taking in surrounding territory, deriving a large part of its value from its contiguous location to the city, was reasonable.

Graves and Woodson, JJ., dissenting.

In Banc. Information in the nature of quo warranto by the State on the information of E. W. Major, Attorney General, against Kansas City, Missouri. Writ of ouster denied.

This is an original proceeding in this court, instituted by the Attorney General, as relator, on the 5th day of February, 1910, by the filing of an information in the nature of quo warranto against the respondent, Kansas City.

The purpose and object of the suit, as shown by the prayer of the information, is that this court may adjudge illegal and void an alleged amendment to the charter of Kansas City seeking to include within the limits of the municipality a large body of contiguous territory, and that the respondent be ousted of all power, rights, and jurisdiction in and over the territory attempted to be annexed by the said pretended extension of its limits.

The facts alleged in the information as entitling the relator to the relief prayed for, briefly stated, are: That Kansas City is a municipal corporation, organized and existing under sections 16 and 17 of article 9 of the Constitution of this state. The territory over which it is alleged that Kansas City now legally exercises municipal power, also the territory sought to be included within its limits, as claimed under the pretended extension thereof, are particularly described by metes and bounds. Facts are alleged to show that at a special election, called for and held on the 6th day of April, 1909, for the purpose of voting upon a proposed amendment to the city charter extending the limits of said city, such amendment failed to receive the majority of votes necessary for its adoption as provided by section 7 of article 1 of the charter of said city, and that therefore the proposed amendment was not legally adopted. The relator then sets forth at length the facts showing the extent of the territory over which Kansas City now exercises jurisdiction as a municipal corporation, and the extent and character of the territory attempted to be included by the extension, and alleges: "That a great deal of the land thus attempted to be included within the limits of the city contained no habitation, and was so situated that it could not by any possibility be used for any city purposes, and was not in any way necessary for the conduct and administration of the affairs, business, control, and jurisdiction of said city." Specific tracts of land within the territory included by the proposed extension are described, which, it is alleged, are used as agricultural lands, and are not suited for nor adapted to city uses. Other facts are pleaded to show the alleged unreasonableness, and therefore the invalidity, of the action of the respondent in seeking to extend its limits, as attempted by the said proposed amendment to its charter.

The grounds upon which relator assails the alleged amendment are set forth as follows: "(1) Because the said proposal of the lawmaking authorities of Kansas City, to extend the limits thereof, was not accepted by the requisite number of the qualified voters of said city, as fixed by the charter of said city. (2) Because of the condition and locality of vast portions of the land sought to be included within the limits, said lands being unsuitable for city purposes, disconnected with said city, and not divided into lots and blocks, and not suitable for such subdivision, the attempted incorporation of the same into the limits of the city was beyond the power of the city, and was unreasonable, illegal, and void. (3) Because by reason of the condition and locality of vast portions of land sought to be included within the extended limits, said lands were given no additional advantages whatever by reason of said proposed extension, and the burden of licenses, and general and special taxes, which the city is now attempting to enforce, would be without any compensating advantages whatever, and would be depriving the owners of said property of their property, rights, and privileges without just compensation." The relator further challenges the alleged amendment on the ground that it is in contravention of sections 21 and 30 of article 2 of the Constitution of this state, and of article 5 of the amendments to the Constitution of the United States.

The respondent filed its answer and return to the information, in which it joined issue upon all of the facts alleged attacking the validity of the amendment of its charter. The respondent further pleads affirmatively the facts, showing, as alleged, a compliance with all of the legal requirements necessary to be taken by respondent in the proposal of the amendment, the submission of the question to the qualified voters of the city at a special election held for that purpose,

[134 S.W. 1009]

the legal adoption of the amendment by the qualified voters of the city, and that respondent ever since said election has exercised and is now exercising municipal power, authority, and control over the territory so included within its limits. Respondent further alleges facts showing the adaptability and necessity of the territory so annexed for city purposes, and also facts showing generally the reasonableness of respondent's action in amending its charter so as to bring within the municipality the territory in controversy. The relator denied each and every allegation of the answer and return.

The cause being thus at issue upon the pleadings, this court made an order appointing Kimbrough Stone, Esq., of Kansas City, as a special commissioner to take the testimony on the issues joined, and to report the testimony, with his findings of fact thereon, together with his findings as to the law, and to state his conclusions of law...

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