ILNews

Carmel met requirements for Southwest Clay annexation

Rebecca Berfanger
January 1, 2007
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The Indiana Supreme Court today found for the City of Carmel in a case regarding landowners who opposed annexation of their property in Southwest Clay Township following a settlement between the city and an organization who called themselves No Ordinance for Annexation (NOAX), who filed a remonstrance and agreed to the settlement in 2005.

The opinion, City of Carmel, Indiana v. Certain Southwest Clay Township Annexation Territory Landowners, 29S00-0608-CV-300, addresses two issues, according to Bryan Babb, an attorney who represents the City of Carmel: that municipalities who want to annex property can settle with landowners, and that there is a difference between initiating a remonstrance and opposing an annexation.

On June 21, 2004, Carmel introduced ordinance C263 and a fiscal plan to annex territory in Southwest Clay Township between 96th and 116th streets, and roughly west of U.S. 31 to the Boone County line. The annexation represented approximately 3,400 parcels. Landowners were notified on July 2, 2004, and a notice was published in the Noblesville Ledger two weeks later. The Carmel city council passed the ordinance on Nov. 24, 2004, and notice was published two days later.

On Feb. 24, 2005, an organization which called themselves No Ordinance for Annexation (NOAX) filed a remonstrance after obtaining signatures from 65 percent of affected landowners, the required amount for a remonstrance. This led to settlement discussions with the city, and ultimately a settlement agreement on Sept. 6, 2005. Carmel incorporated the terms of the settlement into ordinance C263A. The council adopted the settlement agreements on Oct. 7, 2005. NOAX conducted a referendum from Sept. 12 to Dec. 1, 2005, and landowners voted in favor of the settlement 708 to 515.

The remonstrance was certified in December 2005. A hearing was held a few months later to determine whether the annexation could go forward. NOAX sided with Carmel during the hearing, but a few property owners as individuals contested the annexation. The trial court found the original fiscal plan too vague and did not allow the annexation to go forward.

However, the Indiana Supreme Court opinion considers the conditions that must be met and what remonstrators must prove to determine whether an annexation can go forward. The court found that Carmel met these conditions but the remonstrators who did not agree with the settlement did not meet their requirements. Among the remonstrator's requirements was the percentage of landowners who continued to oppose the annexation.

"The decision confirms that the Supreme Court is committed to the idea of reinforcing a legislative system that empowers municipalities to annex land if the conditions of the statute are met," Babb said. "Hiring an expert to poke holes in a city's fiscal plan isn't enough to stop an annexation that is done properly."

The opinion will also help parties in annexation cases around the state, including those who face similar issues and filed amici briefs on this case, Babb said, because "this opinion - for the first time ever - interprets the difference between signing a remonstrance and opposing an annexation. In this case, the trial court equated the two."

Babb added, "This opinion reinforces what the court has been saying for years now, that judges shouldn't micromanage annexations. There are important public policy benefits from allowing annexations to go forward when they are done under proper conditions. In almost every annexation, there will be a vocal minority which will not want to be annexed, but that shouldn't be enough to stop the annexation when done properly."
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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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