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COA: annexed parcels must touch each other

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reaffirmed today that Indiana requires that an annexation ordinance applies only to solid, unbroken areas of land. This issue arose in an annexation dispute between two northern Indiana towns.

In Town of Dyer, Lake County, Ind. v. Town of St. John, Ind., et al., No. 45A03-0908-CV-360, Dyer appealed the dismissal of its amended complaint for declaratory judgment and a permanent injunction preventing St. John from annexing land Dyer intended to annex.

Dyer introduced an ordinance in 2008 to annex three separate parcels of land that adjoined the town's existing boundaries, but didn't adjoin each other. Dyer didn't act on the ordinance and several months later, at the encouragement of landowners, St. John began annexing some of the land proposed in the Dyer ordinances.

Dyer tried to prevent the annexation, but the trial court dismissed its complaint and amended complaint because Dyer's annexation attempt was void and unenforceable.

Dyer's annexation ordinance was invalid because it contained three non-adjacent parcels, the Court of Appeals concluded. The judges found the statutory definition of contiguous is ambiguous with respect to whether all of the land a municipality wants to annex in a single ordinance must form a uniform, undivided body.

Using caselaw on the matter, the appellate judges believed it still stood that the land a municipality wants to annex should consist of one uniform body and not separate pieces of land.

"Since 1864, there has been an understanding that all of the tracts of land a municipality seeks to annex must be contiguous to each other," wrote Judge Michael Barnes. "If the legislature had wanted to allow the annexation of multiple, non-adjacent parcels of land in a single annexation ordinance, which would appear to contravene over a century of case law, it could have expressly drafted the new definition of contiguity in 1981 to clearly say so."

Allowing a municipality to simultaneously annex disjointed parcels of land in one ordinance would violate the basic principles behind the contiguity requirement, such as impacting the ability to provide city services.

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  1. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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