ILNews

Court decides Carmel mining case

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2008
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More than a year after hearing arguments in a Carmel mining-regulation case, the Indiana Supreme Court decided Thursday that municipalities can regulate mining and don't have to rely on a zoning process to do so.

The unanimous decision came in City of Carmel v. Martin Marietta Materials, Inc., No. 29S04-0611-CV-469. Justice Frank Sullivan authored the ruling in Carmel's favor after considering the validity of a 2005 city ordinance exerting control over the 50-year-old mining operation by regulating issues such as the mine's hours of operation and intensity at which it could set off blasts.

Marietta argued that Carmel was overstepping its jurisdiction because it didn't follow proper procedure in passing the mining regulation ordinance. Hamilton Superior Judge William Hughes had prohibited the city from enforcing the ordinance, and the Court of Appeals agreed in 2006.

Justices heard arguments in January 2007. In Thursday's ruling, the court pointed to Marietta's prevailing argument as a "fairly technical one" and said the company wrongly interpreted the General Assembly's intent in passing a law to regulate mining activities solely through the zoning process.

"But the fallacy in Martin Marietta's argument is its contention that when a unit exercises its police power, at least with respect to mining, the unit is compelled to utilize the zoning process," Justice Sullivan wrote, noting that municipalities must use a process called the 600 Series Procedures allowing a planning commission to first review and make recommendations on a zoning amendment. "But beyond that, a unit may, but is not required to, use the zoning process to regulate mining. In the alternative, the City may proceed as it did here."

This holding is consistent with the "home rule" philosophy, Justice Sullivan wrote, and in that thought Indiana Code 36-8-2-4 and the Home Rule Act authorize the city council to "regulate mining without diminishing the authority of zoning procedures with respect to dictating what type of land use is permitted and where."

The court also noted that the Carmel ordinance doesn't unlawfully delegate legislative authority to an administrative official, as Marietta had also contended.

While no direct impact exists from this state appellate ruling, a federal suit remains pending in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis. Filed by Marietta in 2006, the suit accuses Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard of using his political power to stop the company from expanding its mining operation. That suit, Marietta v. Brainard, remains open but is wrapped up in settlement conferences, according to the court docket.
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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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