A Boone County judge has ruled that Zionsville can’t absorb the operations of Perry Township even if voters OK a reorganization plan that’s already on next month’s ballot.
Judge Rebecca McClure’s ruling Tuesday resolves a legal dispute—at least for now—between Zionsville and neighboring Whitestown, which wants to annex parts of Perry Township.
Zionsville Town Council President Jeff Papa said Wednesday morning that municipal leaders are reviewing the decision, "but feel confident about our position on appeal."
The Zionsville council and Perry Township board started working on the reorganization proposal in April, pitching the plan as a way to eliminate a layer of government and deliver services more efficiently.
The change, which would allow Zionsville to shift elected officials’ responsibilities and add a mayor as the town’s chief executive, requires voters’ approval.
But Whitestown filed a lawsuit in June seeking to stop the reorganization, saying the move is illegal because Zionsville is a town, not a township, and its border stops short of the territory it wants to take over.
Zionsville argued that it obtained the powers of townships when it completed a merger with rural Union and Eagle townships in 2010.
McClure’s ruling concludes that because Zionsville emerged from the earlier reorganization as a town, not a town-township hybrid, it cannot proceed with the Perry merger.
Because the decision came after ballots were prepared for the November election, voters still will be able to weigh in on the reorganization plan.