A faulty legal notice published to advertise a public hearing for the purpose of creating a fire protection district in northern Madison County was sufficient grounds for the state to deny creation of the district, the Indiana Tax Court ruled Friday.
Officials in Boone and Van Buren townships in Madison County met in 2010 in an effort to form the Summitville Fire Protection Territory to cover the town and part of the rural territory between Anderson and Marion. But in doing so, Van Buren Township’s published notice failed in several ways to meet the requirements set forth in I.C. § 36-8-19-6.
The Department of Local Government Finance denied creation of the district, and this appeal ensued in 2011. Tax Court Judge Martha Blood Wentworth noted attorneys for the townships and Summitville argued that the errant notice was published the same day and in the same newspaper where the other township’s notice appeared, and that a reasonable person would not have been misled by the defects in one township’s legal ad.
“Unfortunately for the Townships, the Court cannot determine whether there is any merit to their argument because the administrative record in this case is completely devoid of any evidence demonstrating that the two notices were in fact published on the same days in the same newspaper,” Wentworth wrote. “Accordingly, the Court cannot find the DLGF’s final determination was improper. The Townships’ request for relief is therefore denied.”
The case is Van Buren Township, Madison County, Boone Township, Madison County, The Summitville Fire Protection Territory v. Department of Local Government Finance, 49T10-1104-TA-27.