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Justices accept ordinance case

April 18, 2011

The Indiana Supreme Court will decide whether an Indiana town’s ordinance that would give the town the exclusive right to control, regulate, and sell water is actually invalid.

The justices accepted April 14 the case of Town of Avon v. West Central Conservancy District, et al., No. 32S05-1104-PL-217. The Indiana Court of Appeals concluded that the town of Avon’s attempt to regulate by ordinance a township and conservancy district’s ability to remove and sell groundwater located in a park failed because the ordinance violated Indiana law.

The West Central Conservancy District and Washington Township sued, claiming the Avon ordinance violated the Indiana Home Rule Act because only state agencies can regulate surface and groundwater. The trial court granted summary judgment to WCCD and the township, which the appellate court affirmed. The judges found aquifers aren’t considered a “watercourse” under Indiana Code Section 36-5-2-10, so Avon had no authority to restrict what the WCCD and township choose to do with the groundwater in the aquifers.  
 
They also held the Home Rule Act doesn’t grant Avon the authority to regulate in accordance with its inherent police powers, and the town doesn’t have the authority to review, regulate, or impose duties on the township or conservancy district’s exercise of power to sell the groundwater under the Indiana Park Resource Statute.

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