Justices to hear Lake County eminent domain case

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The Indiana Supreme Court unanimously chose to hear two property-related cases, focusing on issues of eminent domain and deciding a case involving rental property fee exemptions for landlords in Bloomington and West Lafayette.    Justices agreed to hear arguments in David Guzzo, et al. v. Town of St. John, Lake County, Indiana, 45A05-1711-PL-2736.

In that case, the Indiana Court of Appeals granted summary judgment to the Town of St. John when it determined unoccupied property owned by David Guzzo did not qualify as agricultural land under Indiana Code section 32-24-4.5-8.

The COA dismissed Guzzo’s argument that he was entitled to 150 percent of fair market value for the land’s qualification as occupied real property, or 125 percent of fair market value for its qualification as agricultural land pursuant to the statute. Justices agreed to hear Guzzo’s petition as to whether he was required to physically live in the residence or use the land for agricultural activities at the time of the taking in order to receive his requested entitlement.

Justices also granted transfer to and decided last week City of Hammond v. Herman & Kittle Properties, Inc. and State of Indiana, 49A04-1612-PL-2784.  

In that case, the high court struck down an exemption that allowed college towns Bloomington and West Lafayette to charge landlords more than the $5 per unit fee mandated in state statute to fund inspections. Specifically, the high court held that the fee exemption was unconstitutional special legislation, but that the exemption was also severable from the remainder of I.C. 36-1-20-5. It thus determined that Hammond did not defeat I.C. section 1-1-1-8(b)’s presumption that operates in favor of severability.

The high court denied transfer to the remaining 22 cases it considered for the week ending March 15. The full list of cases is available here.

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