Court of Appeals green lights Boonville annexation

August 28, 2015

The fourth time has proven to be a charm for the city of Boonville as the Indiana Court of Appeals is allowing the municipality to annex more than 1,000 acres over the objections of several landowners.

Previously, the annexation fight has been before the Court of Appeals twice and the Indiana Supreme Court once, each time getting remanded for further proceedings. A bench trial was held and the Warrick Superior Court, as it had done the other times, denied the remonstrance petition.

In American Cold Storage NA, et al. v. City of Boonville, 87A01-1502-PL-76, the Court of Appeals affirmed. The appellate court was unanimous with Judge Patricia Riley concurring in result.

Appealing this ruling, the remonstrators argued, in part, Boonville had not met the statutory requirement that 60 percent of the annexation territory be subdivided. They asserted Boonville’s expert was wrong to apply the Warrick County subdivision control ordinance to any land that had ever been divided, regardless of when.  

Pointing to Rogers v. Elkhart, 688 N.E.2d 1238, 1242 (Ind. 1997), the Court of Appeals rejected the landowners’ definition of the term “subdivided” as “overly narrow.”

“In light of Rogers, we find that the trial court properly refused to limit the definition of ‘subdivided’ to parcels of land that have actually gone through the process set forth by the county subdivision control ordinance,” Judge John Baker wrote for the court.

Also, as it ruled in previous annexation appeals, the appellate panel found Boonville was not required to have concrete plans for future development but rather just had to show the additional land was needed and could be used.

The remonstrators pointed to the statutory requirement that the annexed territory would be developed by the municipality in the “reasonably near future.” However, as it had in appeals from opponents fighting against annexation in Fortville and Whitestown, the Court of Appeals found Boonville met its burden.

“While there is no evidence of ongoing, confirmed projects in the Annexation Territory, Boonville is not required to make such a showing,” Baker wrote. “It has offered evidence establishing a need for the Annexation Territory, as well as its outlined hopes for development, including business, transportation, and sewer services, in that area. This evidence is sufficient to show that the Annexation Territory is needed and can be used by Boonville in the reasonably near future.”   



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