ILNews

Court rules on annexation, land dispute

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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A county was able to establish an economic development area in unincorporated land that was also in the process of being annexed by a town because the annexation process hadn't been completed yet, ruled the Indiana Supreme Court.

When the Boone County Redevelopment Commission (RDC) initiated proceedings to create an economic development area (EDA), the area included land on which Whitestown had initiated annexation proceedings just one week earlier in July 2006. In October 2006, the Boone County Board of Commissioners approved the establishment of the EDA.

A trial court held pursuant to Indiana's economic development statutes, the RDC had the authority and jurisdiction to establish the EDA; the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the trial court. The appellate court held the county's authority to create the EDA was precluded by the town's initiation of annexation proceedings.

The Indiana Supreme Court on Monday affirmed the decision of the trial court in Brenwick Associates LLC and Town of Whitestown, Indiana v. Boone County Redevelopment Commission and the Board of Commissioners of Boone County, Indiana, No. 06S04-0712-CV-573.

The issue in this case is whether the fact Whitestown started annexation proceedings by introducing an annexation ordinance at the town council meeting precluded Boone County from creating the EDA.

In order to resolve the issue, the high court examined the economic development statutes in Indiana Code Sections 36-7-14-1 to -48. A conflict that can occur under these statutes is when a municipality with a commission decides to annex territory located in a county redevelopment area. At the point in time that annexation is complete, the land in the county redevelopment district is included in the municipality's redevelopment district, which is happening in the instant case.

The Boone County RDC doesn't include any territory in Whitestown because the town has its own redevelopment commission.

"However, when the RDC started establishing the disputed EDA that included the unincorporated 1,425 acres, Whitestown had not completed annexation over any part of this territory; the territory area was not within its corporate boundaries and, therefore, not within its redevelopment district," wrote Justice Frank Sullivan.

Under Indiana Code Sections 36-7-14-3(b) and 41, the RDC had the authority to establish the EDA in the disputed territory until Whitestown had completed its annexation of the disputed territory.
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  2. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  3. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  4. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

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