Whitestown appealing Zionsville case to state Supreme Court

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Whitestown is appealing a recent Indiana Court of Appeals ruling allowing Zionsville to merge with Perry Township to the state Supreme Court.

The ruling from the court of appeals, issued June 2, allows Zionsville to reorganize with Perry Township and add the position of mayor without transitioning to a city.

The Whitestown Town Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to petition the higher court to consider the case. Town attorneys also intend to ask the court to postpone the appellate ruling from taking effect until a final decision is made.

Attorneys with Bose McKinney & Evans representing Whitestown sent Zionsville officials a letter last week demanding the town cease and desist all actions in regards to the ruling. The letter cited 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. (Click here to read the letter.)

A ruling is certified after 30 days if neither party petitions for a transfer to the Indiana Supreme Court or for a rehearing before the court of appeals.

Jeff Papa, former Zionsville Town Council member, was sworn in as the town’s first mayor immediately following the decision from the court of appeals, and former Perry Township Trustee Sam Baldwin was chosen to serve on the council.

The merger with Perry Township added 15 square miles to the land of Zionsville, for a total of 71 square miles.

Mark Crandley, partner with Barnes & Thornburg, replied to the letter from Whitestown on behalf of Zionsville on Tuesday, saying the town would not comply with the cease and desist request.

Cradley argued that Zionsville could have sworn in a mayor and made the transition even prior to the ruling from the court of appeals. He said the trial court’s decision on the case was a declaratory judgement, and Whitestown would have needed to seek an injunction to prevent Zionsville from moving forward with the reorganization.

“What this means is that unless and until a court orders otherwise, the trial court’s judgement did not prohibit Zionsville from taking actions reforming its internal government so as to implement the will of the voters who overwhelmingly approved the reorganization plan in November 2014,” Cradley wrote.

He went to say Zionsville voluntarily delayed implementing the merger, but it wasn’t legally prohibited from proceeding as if the reorganization was finalized.

Whitestown filed the 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.

Last spring, governing bodies for Zionsville and Perry Township authorized the merger, and voters in each entity approved the plan in November.

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.

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