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UPDATE: Carmel met targets for annexation, court rules

Rebecca Berfanger
June 27, 2007
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The Indiana Supreme Court today found for the city of Carmel in a case regarding landowners who opposed annexation of their property in southwest Clay Township following a settlement between the city and an organization that calls itself No Ordinance for Annexation (NOAX), which filed a remonstrance and agreed to the settlement in 2005.

The opinion addresses two issues, according to Bryan Babb, an attorney who represents Carmel: that municipalities wanting to annex property can settle with landowners, and that there is a difference between initiating a remonstrance and opposing an annexation.

On June 21, 2004, Carmel introduced ordinance C263 and a fiscal plan to annex territory in southwest Clay Township between 96th and 116th streets and roughly west of U.S. 31 to the Boone County line. The annexation represented approximately 3,400 parcels. Landowners were notified on July 2, 2004, and a notice was published in the Noblesville Ledger two weeks later. The Carmel City Council passed the ordinance on Nov. 24, 2004, and a notice was published two days later.

On Feb. 24, 2005, NOAX filed a remonstrance after obtaining signatures from 65 percent of affected landowners, the required amount. This led to discussions with the city, and ultimately a settlement agreement on Sept. 6, 2005. Carmel incorporated the terms of the settlement into ordinance C263A. The council adopted the settlement agreements on Oct. 7, 2005. NOAX conducted a referendum from Sept. 12 to Dec. 1, 2005, and landowners voted in favor of the settlement 708 to 515.

The remonstrance was certified in December 2005. A hearing was held a few months later to determine whether the annexation could go forward. NOAX sided with Carmel during the hearing, but a few property owners as individuals contested the annexation. The trial court found the original fiscal plan too vague and did not allow the annexation to go forward.

However, the Indiana Supreme Court opinion considers the conditions that must be met and what remonstrators must prove to determine whether an annexation can go forward. The court found that Carmel met these conditions but that the remonstrators who did not agree with the settlement did not meet their requirements, including having an insufficient percentage of landowners who continued to oppose the annexation.

"The decision confirms that the Supreme Court is committed to the idea of reinforcing a legislative system that empowers municipalities to annex land if the conditions of the statute are met," Babb said. "Hiring an expert to poke holes in a city's fiscal plan isn't enough to stop an annexation that is done properly."

The opinion also will help parties in annexation cases around the state, including those who face similar issues and who filed amici briefs on this case, Babb said, because "this opinion-for the first time ever-interprets the difference between signing a remonstrance and opposing an annexation. In this case, the trial court equated the two."

"This opinion reinforces what the court has been saying for years now, that judges shouldn't micromanage annexations," Babb added. "There are important public-policy benefits from allowing annexations to go forward when they are done under proper conditions. In almost every annexation, there will be a vocal minority which will not want to be annexed, but that shouldn't be enough to stop the annexation when done properly."
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  1. I took Bruce's comments to highlight a glaring issue when it comes to a state's image, and therefore its overall branding. An example is Michigan vs. Indiana. Michigan has done an excellent job of following through on its branding strategy around "Pure Michigan", even down to the detail of the rest stops. Since a state's branding is often targeted to visitors, it makes sense that rest stops, being that point of first impression, should be significant. It is clear that Indiana doesn't care as much about the impression it gives visitors even though our branding as the Crossroads of America does place importance on travel. Bruce's point is quite logical and accurate.

  2. I appreciated the article. I guess I have become so accustomed to making my "pit stops" at places where I can ALSO get gasoline and something hot to eat, that I hardly even notice public rest stops anymore. That said, I do concur with the rationale that our rest stops (if we are to have them at all) can and should be both fiscally-responsible AND designed to make a positive impression about our state.

  3. I don't know about the rest of you but I only stop at these places for one reason, and it's not to picnic. I move trucks for dealers and have been to rest areas in most all 48 lower states. Some of ours need upgrading no doubt. Many states rest areas are much worse than ours. In the rest area on I-70 just past Richmond truckers have to hike about a quarter of a mile. When I stop I;m generally in a bit of a hurry. Convenience,not beauty, is a primary concern.

  4. Community Hospital is the only system to not have layoffs? That is not true. Because I was one of the people who was laid off from East. And all of the LPN's have been laid off. Just because their layoffs were not announced or done all together does not mean people did not lose their jobs. They cherry-picked people from departments one by one. But you add them all up and it's several hundred. And East has had a dramatic drop I in patient beds from 800 to around 125. I know because I worked there for 30 years.

  5. I have obtained my 6 gallon badge for my donation of A Positive blood. I'm sorry to hear that my donation was nothing but a profit center for the Indiana Blood Center.

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