Whitestown demands Zionsville ‘cease and desist’ over merger

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Whitestown is trying to stop Zionsville from operating as if its merger with Perry Township is final.

Attorneys with Bose McKinney & Evans representing Whitestown sent Zionsville officials a letter Thursday evening requesting the town cease and desist all actions in regards to a recent ruling from the Indiana Court of Appeals. (Click here to view the letter.)

The ruling, which was issued Tuesday, allows the town of Zionsville to reorganize with Perry Township and add the position of mayor without becoming a city.

Jeff Papa, former Zionsville Town Council member, was immediately sworn in as the town’s first mayor on Tuesday, and former Perry Township Trustee Sam Baldwin was selected to serve on the council.

The letter from Whitestown demands that Papa step down as mayor and that the town act as if the reorganization has not occurred. It cites Indiana code that says parties involved in a lawsuit shall not take any action in response to a court decision until the opinion is certified.

“Mr. Papa and the Town of Zionsville’s actions to move forward as if the plan for reorganization is effective is in direct contravention of Indiana law,” the letter reads.

A spokesman for the Indiana Court of Appeals told the IBJ on Wednesday that parties have 30 days after a ruling to petition for a transfer to the Indiana Supreme Court or for a rehearing before the court of appeals. If no petition is filed within the 30-day window, the opinion from the court of appeals is certified.

Whitestown Town Council President Eric Miller issued a statement Wednesday that suggested the town would appeal the ruling to the Indiana Supreme Court. The town council is expected to meet in executive session Tuesday to finalize the decision.

As planned, the merger with Perry Township adds 15 square miles of land to Zionsville, for a total of 71 square miles.

Whitestown filed a lawsuit in June 2014 to prevent the reorganization and protect its western border, arguing that the two entities couldn’t merge because they were not adjacent to one another.

Zionsville officials claimed that a 2010 reorganization with Eagle Township allowed the town to assume township powers and borders, making it adjacent to Perry Township.

A Boone County judge ruled in favor of Whitestown in October, but a three-judge panel for the court of appeals that heard the case in March agreed with Zionsville.

Papa told the IBJ on Friday morning that the town had not yet responded to the letter.

“We’ll have legal counsel review it,” Papa said. “And we’ll respond to them.”

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