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COA reverses trial court on Kroger building proposal

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled that the Town of Plainfield Plan Commission must provide The Kroger Co. with specific reasons its building plan was denied or allow Kroger to build a gas station as planned.

In The Kroger Co, et al. v. Plan Commission of the Town of Plainfield, Indiana, No. 32A04-1012-MI-751, Kroger appealed the trial court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of the plan commission, alleging the plan commission’s zoning ordinance does not satisfy the specificity requirement of the Zoning Enabling Act.  

Kroger owns and operates a retail store located at the intersection of State Road 267 and U.S. 40. On October 29, 2009, Kroger submitted a petition seeking approval of its plan to construct a fuel center on the western edge of its property. The plan commission denied that petition, stating the development was not appropriate to its surroundings, was not consistent with the intent and purpose of the Plainfield Zoning Ordinance, and would create a public safety hazard.

In support of its argument, Kroger cited Hendricks Cnty. Board of Comm'rs v. Rieth-Riley Construction Co., 868 N.E.2d at 852 (Ind. Ct. App. 2007),(citing T.W. Thom Const., Inc. v. City of Jeffersonville, 721 N.E.2d 319, 327 (Ind. Ct. App. 1999)), in which the Court of Appeals concluded that an ordinance lacked the necessary specificity and allowed the plan commission “unfettered power to deny development plans if it decides, by whim or otherwise, that the plan contravenes one of the factors listed in the Ordinance.”

But in Kroger, unlike in Rieth-Riley, the Plainfield Zoning Ordinance did provide Kroger with detailed information regarding what development requirements and factors the plan commission would consider when formulating its decision about whether to allow the proposed development, the court held. However, the appeals court held that in denying Kroger’s petition, the plan commission more or less replicated what was already established in the Plainfield Zoning Ordinance.

The appeals court stated that the commission’s findings do not provide sufficient details about why Kroger’s proposed development of a gas station was not appropriate to the site and its surroundings or consistent with the intent and purposes of the Plainfield Zoning Ordinance. Likewise, the findings do not inform Kroger how its proposed development would create a public safety hazard.

The COA remanded the matter to the trial court for further proceedings, holding that if the plan commission cannot provide specific reasons why Kroger’s development plan was denied, then it should grant Kroger’s request to build a fuel center.
 

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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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