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Thursday, July 02, 2015

Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 1 opinion(s) today (and 1 NFP memorandum decisions)

For publication opinions today (1):

In Town of Fortville v. Certain Fortville Annexation Territory Landowners, a 10-page opinion, Judge Baker writes:

The Town of Fortville (Fortville) appeals the trial court’s order denying annexation in favor of certain Fortville annexation territory landowners (the Remonstrators). Fortville argues that the trial court erred when it failed to apply substantial deference to Fortville’s adoption of an annexation ordinance—a legislative function delegated to the Fortville Town Council by the Indiana General Assembly. Fortville also contends that the trial court erred when it found that Fortville had not presented evidence that the area to be annexed was needed and can be used for Fortville’s development in the near future. Finding that the trial court erred by applying the wrong evidentiary standard when analyzing Fortville’s need to annex the area and plans for the areas development, we reverse and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion. * * *

To allow the trial court’s order to stand would be to hold that a city—if it does not have impending plans to build on land that it seeks to annex—must sit and watch the land be used and developed in ways that might harm or impede its future plans for urban management of the land, until the “long-term inevitability” of annexation takes place. This result would be bad policy and likely harm both the area to be annexed and the municipality that seeks to annex it. Thus, we determine that the trial court should not have limited its analysis to evidence of physical construction or development in determining whether Fortville fulfilled the requirements of Indiana Code section 36-4-3-13(c)(2).

Therefore, we hold that the trial court applied the wrong evidentiary standard as a matter of law and find that, in determining whether a municipality fulfills the requirements of Indiana Code section 36-4-3-13(c)(2), a trial court may, and should, consider non-physical brick and mortar development uses, such as those—using annexed territory for “transportation linkages with other developing areas, to control adjacent development on its borders, and to prevent conflicting land uses”—noted by our Supreme court in Hobart. 631 N.E.2d at 913 n. 6. We reverse and remand with instructions that the trial court apply the correct standard and reconsider its judgment.

NFP civil decisions today (0):

NFP criminal decisions today (1):

David Butler v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.)

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 2, 2015 10:30 AM
Posted to Ind. App.Ct. Decisions