Opponents from the 66,000-person town of Geist announced Monday they won't appeal annexation to Fishers. With that, a different Hamilton County legal land battle has become the case attorneys are watching as the one that could be the first real test of Indiana's remonstrance law.
Geist residents announced they wouldn't appeal a Dec. 31 decision from Hamilton Superior Judge Steven Nation that ruled Fishers could annex 2,200 upscale homes on the Geist Reservoir. The Geist area will become part of Fishers next year.
Opponents vowed to appeal Geist v. Town of Fishers, No. 29D01-8404-MI-497-499, but now say they won't continue the legal fight because new property tax caps adopted into law last year mean their taxes won't change much, as had been expected when the annexation battle began four years ago.
This means a similar case that had been put on hold while Geist played out can be focused on more closely. The case of Carmel v. Certain Home Place Annexation Territory Landowners, No. 29A04-0510-CV-578, involves the city's move to annex the 1.6-square mile area near 106th Street and College Avenue.
Hamilton Superior Judge William Hughes had determined in 2005 that Carmel couldn't afford the annexation and ruled in favor of Home Place, but the Court of Appeals reversed his decision in October 2007, determining Judge Hughes had erred in auditing a financial plan and ruling in favor of the remonstrators. The appellate court also found that Carmel had adequately proved it could afford to annex the area. The Indiana Supreme Court decided last year not to take the case, leaving it to Judge Hughes on remand.
The judge put the case on hold late last year while the Geist case went through the court system, but now hearings will be scheduled again.
Bose McKinney & Evans attorney Bryan Babb, who represents Carmel, said attorneys are currently assessing how Judge Nation's order in Geist will impact the Home Place case. One important development that wasn't at issue previously in Home Place was the impact of the property-tax caps, which influenced the Geist decision to not appeal, he said.