The Illinois Second District Appellate Court recently delivered an opinion clarifying the terms “electors” and “owners of record” for purposes of establishing a Special Service Area (SSA).

On June 5, 2007, the Village of Johnsburg approved an Ordinance proposing the establishment of an SSA.  Residents of the proposed SSA subsequently filed a petition objecting to the proposed SSA.  Illinois SSA law provides that a petition opposing the establishment of an SSA must be signed by at least 51% of the “electors” and 51% of the “owners of record” of the land to be included within the boundaries of the SSA and the objectors claimed that they had met these standards.

The Village claimed that the petition failed to meet both the 51% of electors standard and the 51% of owners of record standard.  Residents of the Village filed suit and the trial court found for the petitioners.  The Village appealed.

Based on its review of the law, the Appellate Court found the following:

  • The term “elector” means a person who is registered to vote at the address shown opposite his or her signature on a petition.  The petitioners claimed that certain electors who were included in the Village Clerk’s tally no longer resided within the boundaries of the proposed SSA and therefore should not have been counted.  The Appellate Court found that electors are determined by the names listed on the County Clerk’s list of registered voters.  Therefore, even if certain property within the boundaries of a proposed SSA is vacant, if the previous residents are still listed on the County Clerk’s list of registered voters for that property, they are considered electors for the purpose of the objection petition.
  • Although the SSA Law provides that a property owned by a land trust, corporation, estate or partnership is considered to only have one owner of record, it does not state that land owned by more than one land trust, corporation, estate or partnership must be treated as having only one owner of record.  Therefore, since two living trusts owned some of the property in question, the property is considered to have two owners of record, requiring a larger number of owners to meet the 51% test.

The Appellate Court reversed the trial court’s decision and decided the case in favor of the Village, finding that the petitioners failed to provide enough signatures to meet the 51% requirement under both standards in the SSA Law.

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