ILNews

Court decides Carmel annexation case

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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Carmel has another appellate win on the issue of annexation after an Indiana Court of Appeals ruling today.

The state's second-highest appellate court decided that the city adequately proved it could afford to annex part of a nearby community into its municipal borders, and that a Hamilton County judge erred in auditing a financial plan and ruling in favor of the remonstrators.

The unanimous decision in City of Carmel v. Certain Home Place Annexation Territory Landowners, No. 29A04-0510-CV-578, comes not even a month after a three-judge appellate panel heard arguments in the case Sept. 18.

Arguments had been halted for almost a year as the Indiana Supreme Court considered a similar annexation case involving the same city and trial judge, and the court dug into Home Place again after the justices decided the other case this summer.

This suit involves the attempted annexation of historic Home Place, a 1.6-square mile area centered at 106th Street and College Avenue that involves more than 2,200 property owners. Nearly three-quarters of the property owners remonstrated against the annexation because of higher taxes. In a 2005 decision, Hamilton Superior Judge William Hughes ruled that despite Carmel's submission of a fiscal plan outlining how it would pay for the annexation, the city did not prove it could afford to provide services to the area.

During arguments, attorneys debated how much authority a trial judge has to determine credibility of what's in a fiscal plan, especially when opposing expert witnesses point to conflicting information.

Judge Hughes determined the fiscal plan's statement that "other available revenues" would be used to pay for the annexation was not sufficient

In writing for the majority, Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote, "Carmel met its burden of proving the statutory prerequisite that the fiscal plan must show 'the method or methods of financing the planned services.' The trial court's judgment to the contrary is akin to a judicial audit and constitutes clear error."

The court relied on past rulings from the Indiana Supreme Court, including a June decision involving a Carmel annexation of another area in Southwest Clay Township. Justices reversed the trial ruling - also of Judge Hughes - and allowed the annexation to proceed, and distinguished between signing a remonstrance and opposing an annexation.

"At the end of the day, it is apparent Carmel has made credible and enforceable commitments to provide equivalent services to Home Place," Judge Vaidik wrote in today's opinion.
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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. 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.

  5. 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?

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