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Opinion explains use of supplemental evidence

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In affirming a trial court's decision to uphold a board of zoning appeals' denial of a petition for a variance, the Indiana Court of Appeals also addressed the trial court's admission of supplemental evidence pursuant to Indiana Code Section 36-7-4-1009.

In Edward Rose of Indiana, LLC v. Metropolitan Board of Zoning Appeals, Division II, Indianapolis-Marion County, Ind., No. 49A02-0809-CV-812, the company Edward Rose of Indiana, which owns an apartment complex in Indianapolis, appealed the denial of its petition for a variance regarding a sign located near Interstate 65. Edward Rose received notice in 2007 the sign was in violation of the consolidated city and county zoning ordinance. After the denial of its petition, Edward Rose filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the trial court, at which the court received supplemental evidence in the form of testimony from a professional land use planner and three employees of the apartment complex. The trial court affirmed the denial of the petition for variance.

Before addressing the appeal, the Court of Appeals examined the trial court's use of supplemental evidence. The statute in question states the trial court's review of a petition for writ of certiorari is limited to determining the legality of the BZA's decision, but also states the court may take evidence to supplement the evidence and facts disclosed by the return of the writ of certiorari. It also states the review by the trial court may not be de novo.

During the certiorari proceeding, Edward Rose used a great deal of supplemental evidence to try to support its contention from the BZA proceeding that a "significant" amount of leases were attributable to the sign and removal of it will result in practical difficulties.

It appears in this case the trial court didn't make its decision using the evidence presented during the BZA proceeding, but instead used the supplemental evidence to make its decision, wrote Judge Margret Robb. The trial court should have concluded that its admission of the company's supplemental evidence was inconsistent with certiorari review under I.C. Section 36-7-4-1009.

The Court of Appeals did provide examples of when supplemental evidence may be admitted without running afoul of the trial de novo prohibition, including when new evidence is discovered after the BZA's proceedings and when the record presented to the trial court doesn't contain all the evidence actually presented to the BZA.

Edward Rose failed to prove as a matter of law that removal of the sign will result in practical difficulties in the use of the property, the appellate court ruled. Because the evidence can't establish a more precise estimate of the increase in the advertising budget of the company because of the removal of the sign, it failed to show it will suffer significant economic injury as a matter of law. The injury is self-created because the company knew for more than 15 years its sign was in violation of the ordinance, wrote the judge. In addition, there are feasible alternatives for the company to attract business, such as advertising on a nearby billboard.

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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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