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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court issues two

Metropolitan Development Commission of Marion Co. v. Pinnacle Media, LLC - This is a petition for rehearing. The list of amici curiae signatories is very long. The 5-page opinion is written by Justice Sullivan. Some quotes:

Pinnacle Media, LLC, has asked us to reconsider our opinion, ... in which we held that a change in the zoning ordinance of Marion County concerning bill-board location permits was applicable to Pinnacle’s plan to erect 10 billboards in Indian-apolis. We grant rehearing to address the issues raised by Pinnacle and also those raised in an amici curiae brief.

We start by saying that both Pinnacle and amici read our opinion as constituting a dramatic change in land use law. It does not. * * *

The key principle at stake in this case—the principal point debated in the parties’ briefs in the Court of Appeals—is that changes in zoning ordinances are subject to any vested rights in the property. This principle is of constitutional dimension, as our original opinion makes clear, and we reaffirm it here. As noted, Knutson said that a zoning ordinance could not be enacted with retroactive effect depriving a property owner of the right to a building permit in accordance with a zoning ordinance in effect at the time of the ap-plication for the permit. Id. This is certainly so where a property owner has vested rights in the property, but Knutson suggested something more, namely, that the mere filing of a building permit was enough to create vested rights in the first place. We only overruled Knutson’s “suggestion that having a building permit on file creates a vested right that cannot be overcome by a change in zoning law.” Pinnacle Media, LLC, 836 N.E.2d at 428. The fundamental principle that changes in zoning ordinances are subject to any vested rights in the property remains in full force and effect.

Simply put, we held that the Marion County ordinance was in effect 11 months before Pinnacle began construction, and so Pinnacle was subject to it. * * *

[A]lthough both amici and Pinnacle itself seem to contend that our original opinion will make it more difficult to develop Wal-Marts, we can only say that our opinion stands for the proposition that changes in zoning ordinances are subject to any vested rights. To the extent that a Wal-Mart developer—or any other property owner—possesses vested rights in property, those rights will be protected, as the Constitution demands.

Here is a link to the ILB entry on the original, Nov. 4, 2005 Supreme Court ruling. Here is a Jan. 29, 2006 ILB entry quoting from an Indianapolis Star column speculating on whether the Court would grant a petition for rehearing. And here is a Nov. 22, 2005 ILB entry titled "Recent billboard ruling may help Crown Point "big box" position."

In Michelle Ellenwine v. Dawn Fairley, a 14-page unanimous opinion by Justice Sullivan, the court addresses issues "with respect to a child patient who is the vic-tim of medical negligence prior to the child’s sixth birthday who dies prior to the child’s eighth birthday."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 3, 2006 03:10 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions