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Zionsville wins appeal in airport zoning dispute

June 21, 2012

The town of Zionsville has won a court appeal enabling it to enforce its zoning laws on the operator of Indianapolis Executive Airport, which now falls within the town’s borders thanks to an annexation.

The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Zionsville in an opinion issued Wednesday.

Zionsville’s dispute with the airport’s operator, the Hamilton County Airport Authority, began in 2008 when the town annexed Union Township.

Hamilton County purchased the airport, which is located on East State Road 32 just within neighboring Boone County’s eastern border, in 2003.

Boone County Commissioners and the Boone County Area Plan Commission had allowed the airport authority to govern land use at the airport by creating a special airport district under the county zoning ordinance.

But, in February 2010, nearly two years after the annexation, Zionsville officials notified the authority that it needed approval from the town’s planning department before obtaining construction permits.

In turn, the authority filed a complaint, which was transferred to Marion County, asking a judge to determine whether the authority had jurisdiction over its land use.

The court sided with the authority.

Zionsville appealed, however, and won.

The Indiana Court of Appeals’ opinion was written by Senior Judge Randall Shepard, who retired in March as chief justice of the state’s Supreme Court.

“The Indiana Supreme Court has held that a general unit of government maintains zoning authority within its boundaries, even as to other general governments,” Shepard wrote.

Previously known as Terry Airport, Indianapolis Executive Airport has operated since 1958.

In recent years, the airport has been improved to accommodate larger corporate jets.

Hamilton County reconstructed the airport’s main runway courtesy of a $3.4 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant.
 

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