Wilson v. Eureka City

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United States Supreme Court

173 U.S. 32

Wilson  v.  Eureka City

Section 12 of Ordinance No. 10 of Eureka City, Utah, provided as follows:

'No person shall move any building or frame of any building, into or upon any of the public streets, lots or squares of the city, or cause the same to be upon, or otherwise to obstruct the free passage of the streets, without the written permission of the mayor, or president of the city council, or in their absence a councilor. A violation of this section shall on conviction, subject the offender to a fine of not to exceed twenty-five dollars.'

The plaintiff in error was tried for a violation of the ordinance, in the justice's court of the city. He was convicted and sentenced to pay a fine of $25. He appealed to the district court of the First judicial district of the territory of Utah.

On the admission of Utah into the Union, the case was transferred to the Fifth district court of Juab county, and there tried on the 24th of October, 1896, by the court without a jury, by consent of the parties.

Section 12, supra, was offered and admitted in evidence. Plaintiff in error objected to it, on the ground that it was repugnant to section 1 of article 14 of the constitution of the United States, in that it delegated an authority to the mayor of the city, or, in his absence, to a councilor.

There was also introduced in evidence an ordinance establishing fire limits within the city, providing that no wooden buildings should be erected within such limits except by the permission of the committee on building, and providing further for the alteration and repair of wooden buildings already erected. The ordinance is inserted in the margin. [1]

The evidence showed that the plaintiff in error was the owner of a wooden building of the dimensions of 20 by 16 feet, which was used as a dwelling house. It was constructed prior to the enactment of the ordinances above mentioned. The evidence further showed that plaintiff in error applied to the mayor for permission to move the building along and across Main street in the city to another place within the fire limits. The mayor refused the permission, stating that, if the desire was to move it outside of the fire limits, permission would be granted. Notwithstanding the refusal, the plaintiff in error moved the building, using blocks and tackle and rollers, and, in doing so, occupied the time between 11 a. m. and 3 p. m. At the place where the building stood originally, the street was 50 feet from the houses on one side to those on the other, part of the space being occupied by sidewalks, and the balance by the traveled highway. The distance of removal was 206 feet along and across Main street. Eureka City was and is a mining town, and had and has a population of about 2,000. It was admitted that the building was moved with reasonable diligence.

The plaintiff in error was again convicted. From the judgment of conviction he appealed to the supreme court of the state, which court affirmed the judgment (48 Pac. 41, 150), and to the judgment of affirmance this writ of error is directed.

Eureka City has no special charter, but was incorporated under the general incorporation act of March 8, 1888, and among the powers conferred by it on city councils are the following:

'(10) To regulate the use of streets, alleys, avenues, sidewalks, cross walks, parks and public grounds.

'(11) To prevent and remove obstructions and encroachments upon the same.'

The error assigned is that the ordinance is repugnant to the fourteenth amendment of the constitution of the United States, because 'thereby the citizen is deprived of his property without due process of law,' and 'the citizen is thereby denied the equal protection of the law.'

J. W. N. Whitecotton, for plaintiff in error.

P. L. Williams, for defendant in error.Mr. Justice McKENNA, after stating the facts in the foregoing language, delivered the opinion of the court.


^1  Section 1. That the following boundaries are hereby established as the fire limits of Eureka City, to wit: Commencing at a point on Main street of said city, where said street crosses the Union Pacific Railway track. and opposite or nearly opposite, the Keystone Hoisting Works, thence running in an easterly direction along said Main street to a point where said street intersects the road or street easterly of the site now occupied by the M. E. Church building; the northerly and southerly boundaries of said fire limits to be two hundred feet on each side of said Main street for said distance.

Sec. 2. Every building hereafter within the fire limits of said city shall be of brick, stone, iron, or other substantial and incombustible material, and only the following wooden buildings shall be allowed to be erected, except as hereinafter provided, viz.: Sheds to facilitate the erection of authorized buildings, coal sheds not exceeding ten feet in height, and not to exceed one hundred feet in area, and privies not to exceed thirty feet in area, and ten feet in height, and all such sheds and privies shall be separate structures: provided, that any person desiring to erect a building of other material than those above specified within said fire limits, shall first apply to the committee on building within said fire limits of the city for permission so to do, and if the consent of the committee on building within said fire limits shall be given, they shall issue a permit, and it shall thereupon be lawful to erect such building under such regulations and restrictions as the committee on building within said fire limits may provide.

Sec. 3. Any wooden building already within said fire limits shall only be altered or repaired in such a manner that neither area nor height be

increased without the consent of the said committee on building within said fire limits.

Sec. 4. The said committee on building within said fire limits shall have the power to stop the construction of any building, or the making of alterations or repairs on any building where the same is being done in violation of the provisions of this ordinance, and any owner, architect, or builder, or others who may be employed, who shall assist in violation or non-compliance with the provisions of this ordinance shall be subject to a fine for every such violation or non-compliance, of not less than ten nor more than one hundred dollars.

Sec. 5. That there shall be a committee consisting of three members of the council appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the council, to be known as the 'Committee on Building within the Fire Limits of Eureka City,' and that said committee be appointed immediately upon the taking effect of this ordinance.

Sec. 6. This ordinance shall take effect and be in force from and after its first publication in the Tintic Miner.

Passed and app oved June 4, 1894.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).