Currently, individuals that want to annex property into a community must file an application that is signed by the property owner and a majority of the voters residing on the property. If passed, HB 2157 would alter longstanding and settled annexation procedures by introducing additional mandates, including requiring annexation applicants to attest that:
- The annexation would solely benefit the property owner and any voters living on the property; and
- The annexation application was not filed to help a municipality involuntarily annex property in the future.
The bill also creates additional criteria that a municipality must satisfy before involuntarily annexing property, significantly upending municipal authority to annex property, control municipal boundaries, and promote economic development.
As drafted, the bill creates a host of problems. First, annexation commonly benefits more than just a property’s owners and residents. Annexation also benefits the annexing municipality, which receives increased regulatory control and tax revenue; parties that wish to develop the property, but may not yet own it; prospective residents that do not have an ownership interest in the property; and neighboring property owners that, as a result of the annexation, may be able to receive city services by annexing their properties. The bill would apparently invalidate annexations that benefit any of these parties.
Second, its unclear how an annexation applicant could confirm that its application would not help a municipality involuntarily annex property in the future. Annexation applicants generally aren’t aware of a community’s annexation plans (if any such plans exist). A law requiring an annexation applicant to attest to a municipality’s unknown future plans seems designed only to chill otherwise valid efforts to annex and develop property.
This bill comes on the heels of an annexation lawsuit we previously reported on involving Bolingbrook, a village located in Will County. The Bolingbrook case featured unusual facts that prompted the court to invalidate a voluntary annexation that facilitated a subsequent involuntary annexation. At first blush, this bill appears to respond to the Bolingbrook case, albeit in a way that may create serious unintended consequences.
We’ll update our readers as the bill progresses.
Post Authored by Greg Jones, Ancel Glink