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Sunday, August 25, 2019

Appeals court declines to consider Shelby County landowner dispute

By Elizabeth Alt | Apr 20, 2018

MOUNT VERNON — The Fifth District Appellate Court on April 2 denied an appeal from landowners in a 13-year-old case over the construction of private roads in a Shelby County subdivision.

Stating that nothing in previous order gives the appellate court jurisdiction in the case, Judge Thomas Welch delivered the ruling for the court, with Judges James Moore and David K. Overstreet concurring.

David and Barbara Galvin appealed a trial court decision that ordered them for the third time to construct a subdivision they own called Lithia Estates, where two houses were built in the 1970s, before the Galvins purchased it, according to background information in the ruling. Since 2002, the Galvins have owned all but two plots of land, which are owned by Mark and Karla Goodwin and William Curl, who have single-family homes on the plots.

In 2005, Shelbyville Township filed a complaint against the Galvins, with Shelby County joining in 2006, for a road they personally constructed that led from their campgrounds near Lithia Estates to the roads maintained by Shelby County, the ruling states. The road was not approved by the Shelbyville Township, and the Township Road District said that the road was not built to the district’s specifications; the road commissioner expressed concern over safety and maintenance of the road.

In 2008, a trial court ordered the Galvins to construct “streets, sewers, a water main supply system, a storm water system, curbs and gutters, sidewalks, and street signs in order to comply with the Zoning Ordinance,” according to the ruling. The court also ordered that if the Galvins did not complete the required construction, Shelby County would place a tax lien against their property to complete the subdivision. The court waived a $12,000 fine until the Galvins had finished construction.

After years without any progress, Curl and the Goodwins filed a request asking the county to be forced to comply with previous court orders to take over the subdivision construction. In 2016, the trial court ordered the Galvins to pay the previously unpaid $12,000 fine for “failure to comply with the court's June 11, 2008, judgment; if the payment was not made within 30 days, a lien was to be issued encumbering their property.” The court told the Galvins to submit a plat proposal that would comply with new zoning laws and be “similar to the original plat as possible.”

According to the ruling, during the “February 17, 2017, hearing, the court expressed frustration with the defendants' 'complete lack of respect' for its 2008 and 2014 orders. The court also noted that the third version of the plat was "not anywhere within the spirit of the 2008 [order] or any subsequent orders." Curl and the Goodwins were allowed to submit a plat proposal, which the court adopted because it was “more closely in compliance with the court's original order.”

The Galvins said their appeal should be considered because the court orders were not permanent and because the circuit court disposed of the case after final judgment. Welch noted in the denial that “the order clearly requires the Galvins to make changes to the existing conditions of their land, and nothing in the order indicates that these measures were intended to be temporary.”

Welch wrote that the previous ruling was not disposed of, and that “the court's August 21, 2017, order does not in substance finally dispose of the parties' rights regarding issues in the case, as there are matters left pending and unresolved. Therefore, the order was not a final and appealable order that would confer jurisdiction in this court.”

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Illinois Fifth District Appellate Court