Articles Posted in Zoning, Planning & Land Use

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In 2014, the Town of Fortville adopted an ordinance and resolution annexing 644 acres (the “Annexation Territory”) of land adjacent to the municipality. A number of landowners (“Remonstrators”) comprising ninety-three percent of the owners of parcels within the affected area filed a petition challenging the proposed annexation. The trial court entered judgment in favor of the Remonstrators and ordered that the annexation shall not take place, concluding that the Annexation Territory was not needed and could not be used by the municipality for its development in the reasonably near future. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court fulfilled its obligation to consider only whether the statutory conditions for annexation had been satisfied; and (2) the trial court did not clearly err in upholding the remonstrance and denying annexation because Fortville failed to demonstrate that the Annexation Territory was needed and could be used for Fortville’s development in the reasonably near future. View "Town of Fortville v. Certain Fortville Annexation Territory Landowners" on Justia Law

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In 2010, acting under the Government Modernization Act (GMA), the Town of Zionsville reorganized with the unincorporated areas of Eagle Township and all of Union Township. In 2013, the Town of Whitestown adopted an ordinance to annex certain territory in Perry Township. In 2014, the Perry Township adopted an ordinance proposing to reorganize with Zionsville. The Zionsville-Perry Reorganization plan was adopted by Zionsville and Perry Township in 2014. The Town of Whitestown sought judicial declarations that the Zionsville-Perry Reorganization plan was contrary to law. Zionsville counterclaimed, seeking a judicial declaration prohibiting Whitestown from pursuing its attempts to annex territory in Perry Township and Zionsville. The district court rejected the 2014 Zionsville-Perry Reorganization and approved Whitestown’s attempts to annex the territory in Perry and Zionsville, concluding that the 2014 Zionsville-Perry Reorganization was contrary to the GMA and therefore invalid. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the 2014 Zionsville-Perry Reorganization was not prohibited and that Whitestown may not adopt annexation ordinances annexing territory in municipalities that are the result of completed reorganizations under the GMA. Remanded. View "Town of Zionsville v. Town of Whitestown" on Justia Law

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In 2007, the Brown County Board of Commissioners enacted an ordinance that established a county-wide fire protection district. In 2008, the newly elected Board enacted an ordinance purporting to dissolve the district. The Court of Appeals concluded that the Board lacked the authority to unilaterally dissolve the district by ordinance absent a petition process. In 2011, the Board amended the ordinance. Several county landowners sued various commissioners and the Board of Trustees, Brown County Fire Protection District seeking a declaration that the amendments were void. The trial court granted summary judgment to the landowners, concluding that the amending ordinance was not a valid exercise of the Board’s authority. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the amended ordinance was a valid exercise of the authority of the Brown County Board of Commissioners. View "Anderson v. Gaudin" on Justia Law

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Two landowners owned property served by a regional sewer district. The district had perfected liens against the properties due to the landowners’ failure to pay fees and penalties. The trial court listed the properties to be sold at a tax sale to satisfy obligations for the unpaid sewer bills. The landowners subsequently petitioned the circuit court to remove their properties from the tax sale list. The circuit court granted the petitions, concluding that because the district maintained the only lien, the district was precluded from foreclosing on the parcels pursuant to Ind. Code 13-26-14-4. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the foreclosure prohibition of Ind. Code 13-26-14-4, which governs the collection of regional sewer district sewer liens, does not apply to collection by tax sale; and (2) because the district did not seek collection of the landowners’ unpaid fees and penalties through the lien foreclosure method, but rather employed the tax sale method, the lien foreclosure prohibition clause did not apply. Remanded. View "In re Carroll County 2013 Tax Sale" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff owned and operated certain water and sewer facilities in the City of Fort Wayne. The facilities were divided into two separate geographic areas - the North System and the Aboite System. In 2002 the City passed a resolution appropriating and condemning the North System. The City assessed damages in the amount of $14,759,500. Plaintiff challenged the condemnation proceedings alleging that the City failed to follow the proper eminent domain or condemnation statutes. The trial court granted summary judgment for the City, and the Supreme Court affirmed. The City subsequently reaffirmed its initial resolution appropriating and condemning Plaintiff's North System and adopted a resolution assessing damages in the amount of $16,910,5000. Plaintiff appealed the decision to the trial court and requested a trial by jury. The trial court refused the trial request and granted the City's motion for partial judgment on the pleadings. The Supreme Court reversed, concluding that Plaintiff had a right to the trial court's review of the record which included a full evidentiary hearing before a jury. View "Util. Ctr., Inc. v. City of Fort Wayne" on Justia Law

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Petitioner appealed a Marshall County Drainage Board order assessing him a portion of a drain-reconstruction project's costs, contending that he received no benefit from the project because his land was adequately drained before the reconstruction. The Supreme Court affirmed the assessment because under Indiana law, holding (1) Indiana law allows a drainage board to assess a benefit to a tract of land based solely on the fact that surface water from that land flows into the regulated drain for which the assessment is levied; and (2) as a result, the trial court's order - which found that the Board's decision to attribute a benefit to Petitioner on this bases was not arbitrary, capricious, or unlawful, and was supported by substantial evidence - was not erroneous. View "Crowel v. Marshall County Drainage Bd." on Justia Law

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Steven and Lauren Siwinski, homeowners in the town of Ogden Dunes, rented their home despite receiving a cease and desist letter advising them that that rentals were prohibited by the town zoning ordinances. The town filed suit against the Siwinskis for violating town ordinances. Both parties moved for summary judgment, and the trial court granted the town's motion for summary judgment and injunctive relief. The trial court entered judgment in favor of the town in the amount of $40,000. The court of appeals reversed and remanded with instructions that the trial court enter summary judgment in favor of the Siwinskis. On transfer, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's granting of summary judgment in favor of the town, holding that the Siwinskis impermissibly rented their dwelling in violation of the town's ordinances. The Court then held that the fine for violating this ordinance should not have exceeded $32,500. Remanded. View "Siwinski v. Town of Ogden Dunes" on Justia Law