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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ind. Decisions - More on "Flying J plans can proceed after high court ruling"

Supplementing this ILB entry from Dec. 22nd, Amanda Iacone has this report today in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. Some quotes:

An Indiana Supreme Court decision will allow a controversial travel plaza to be built in New Haven.

The latest court ruling could end a five-year legal battle between New Haven and Flying J, a Utah-based company that owns and operates truck plazas across the country.

At issue is whether the proposed 17-acre plaza with a convenience store and fuel station is allowed under the city’s former commercial zoning ordinance or the ammended version.

The property was zoned C-1 commercial when Flying J bought 53 acres at the northwest corner of Minnich Road and Indiana 930. Since then, the city changed its zoning ordinance, limiting the size of service stations to two acres.

Thursday, the high court decided not to hear the case, effectively upholding both an appeals court decision and a lower court ruling.

This is the second time the case has reached the state’s highest court.

The lower court rulings found that the truck plaza is a permitted use under the original zoning, that the new zoning ordinance doesn’t apply and that the project should be allowed, City Attorney David Van Gilder said.

Mayor Terry McDonald said the decision means cities and towns can’t protect their communities.

“I guess now the courts decide for local communities how we are to zone,” McDonald said. “It really opens up any neighborhood in any city for potentially undesirable development. I think the court has overstepped their bounds.” * * *

Now it’s up to company officials to determine what happens next, Van Gilder said, as the city has no other legal options for appeal.

“As a legal matter, the litigation is over,” Van Gilder said.

If the company wants to build the plaza, it would have to file a primary development plan for approval by the New Haven Plan Commission, he said.

As long as the project hasn’t changed since it was last sent to the plan commission in 2007, the commission would have to accept it under the original zoning classification, Van Gilder said.

The city rejected the development plan in 2007, saying it didn’t comply with an updated zoning ordinance, which restricted the size of service stations to 2 acres or less, he said.

That decision kicked off a second round of litigation, said local attorney James Federoff, who represents Flying J. Federoff didn’t know whether the company would file a development plan. That plan could raise other legal issues that could be disputed, he said.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 23, 2009 09:42 AM
Posted to Indiana Transfer Lists