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COA affirms Avon ordinance invalid

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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 Indiana Court of Appeals held today.

The West Central Conservancy District was in the process of studying and attempting to provide a water supply based on the discovery of water aquifers under Washington Township’s Community Park when Avon enacted an ordinance to control and regulate taking of water from a watercourse. The ordinance gave Avon the exclusive right to control and regulate water within 10 miles of the town’s municipal limits and only the town could sell and distribute water. The ordinance defined watercourses, but the statute the ordinance relies on doesn’t mention groundwater, aquifers, or any water that is below ground.

The WCCD and township sued claiming the ordinance violated the Home Rule Act because only state agencies can regulate surface and groundwater. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of WCCD and the township.

Avon can regulate watercourses, but its regulation in the instant case hinges on whether an aquifer is a “watercourse” under Indiana law. In Town of Avon v. West Central Conservancy District, et al., No. 32A05-1003-PL-149, the Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision, finding aquifers are not considered a “watercourse” under Indiana Code Section 36-5-2-10.

“More particularly, the Park’s aquifers and groundwater are not lakes, rivers, or streams, and the definition of ‘watercourse' in Indiana Code section 36-9-1-10 necessarily includes only bodies of water like lakes, rivers, and streams. Indeed, the General Assembly would have simply used the term ‘water’ or even ‘aquifers’ or ‘groundwater’ in the Watercourse Statutes if it intended such a broad sweep,” wrote Chief Judge John Baker.

Because an aquifer is not a watercourse, Avon has no authority to restrict what the WCCD and township choose to do with the groundwater in the aquifers.

In addition, the appellate court held the Home Rule act doesn’t grant Avon the authority to regulate in accordance with its inherent police powers and the town lacks the authority to review, regulate, or impose duties on the WCCD or township’s exercise of power to sell the groundwater under the Park Resource Statute. Avon can’t interfere with WCCD and the township’s common law right to use the groundwater in its aquifers as it sees fits, wrote the chief judge.
 

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  1. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

  2. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  3. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  4. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  5. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

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