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Sunday, January 29, 2006

Ind. Decisions - Billboard controversy is spotted in new venue

John Ketzenberger, business columnist for the Indianapolis Star, has an interesting column today titled "Billboard controversy is spotted in new venue" on the Pinnacle decision [see ILB entry here], mentioning that the Supreme Court has not yet decided whether to rehear the case. Here is some of what he writes:

You may recall the column I wrote in November [see ILB entry here] describing the city's effort to ban the billboards and Pinnacle Media's desire to keep them. The case turns on zoning law. Pinnacle applied for zoning permission in April 2000; a week later the city started changing zoning code to forbid the billboards. Meanwhile, 10 billboards were put up, and the court fight began.

Pinnacle won two lower court decisions that essentially determined zoning can't be changed in the time between a permit's filing and the project's start. But the Supreme Court sided with the city in November. Now it is deciding whether to take the rare step of rehearing the case.

A group of prominent business leaders -- including Simon Property Group, Duke Realty and the Indiana Builders Association -- desperately want the court to take another look. They fear local officials could use ordinance changes made in the time between a developer's application and actual construction to kill a project. "The idea that nothing is done before construction begins is absurd," said Jim Beatty, who represents the builders.

More from the column:
As the high court mulls what to do, Rep. David Wolkins, R- Winona Lake, entered the fray. On Wednesday, he inserted an amendment that would do what developers want. The bill he amended, House Bill 1120, cleared the House 91-0.

"This probably doesn't help the Pinnacle case," Wolkins said. "But it'll help prevent another one like it."

That's true, until a sharp lawyer gets his hands on the case.

[Note: HB 1120 concerns human trafficking; perhaps Ketzenberger means HB 1010, concerning eminent domain, which "cleared the house" 97-0. In that case, this would be the amendment Rep. Wolkins made affecting billboards.]

Two other, earlier ILB entries referencing Pinnacle may be found here and here.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 29, 2006 08:29 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions | Indiana Government | Indiana Law