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Commission OK to rule on territory dispute

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed an order by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, finding the commission had the authority to hear a dispute between a town and a water company.

At issue in Town of Chandler, Indiana v. Indiana-American Water Co., and Town of Newburgh, Indiana, No. 93A02-0801-EX-00005, is Indiana Code Section 8-1-2-86.5, which defines when the commission may determine a territorial dispute within a 4-mile area regarding water utilities.

The town of Chandler owns and operates a water utility for the delivery of water within and around the corporate limits of the town. The town adopted an ordinance that stated it would be the only provider of water within the 4-mile area surrounding the town. Indiana-American Water Co. filed a complaint with the regulatory commission, requesting that it determine the unincorporated areas in the 4-mile area surrounding the town were open competition for water customers.

There was also a dispute involving the town of Newburgh, because it passed a similar ordinance and some of its 4-mile area overlapped with the surrounding Chandler area.

The commission issued an order denying Chandler's second motion to dismiss the complaint and granted Indiana-American's requested relief and ruled that Indiana-American could provide water service to a prospective customer within the 4-mile area, regardless of Chandler's ordinance.

The Court of Appeals examined the construction of I.C. Section 8-1-2-86.5 to determine whether the commission had the authority to determine a territorial dispute. Chandler argued that the commission can't determine a territorial dispute because the statute only applies to the municipalities that meet the conditions of subsections (c)(1) and (c)(2), and since Newburgh doesn't meet those conditions, the commission can't settle the dispute.

The Court of Appeals disagreed with Chandler's arguments, finding the plain reading of the statute leads the court to conclude the exception to the exception, which allows the commission to determine disputes between two municipalities located within the same 4-mile area, applies whenever the territorial dispute concerns an area located within more than one 4-mile area of any municipality, wrote Judge Paul Mathias.

The appellate court also found the commission's treatment of Chandler didn't violate Article I, Section 23 of the Indiana Constitution because a municipal corporation isn't a citizen of Indiana and the section is inapplicable to its case.

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  1. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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