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Town of Lapel v. City of Anderson

Court of Appeals of Indiana

September 10, 2014

TOWN OF LAPEL, INDIANA, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
CITY OF ANDERSON, INDIANA, Appellee-Plaintiff

APPEAL FROM THE MADISON CIRCUIT COURT. The Honorable J. Richard Campbell, Special Judge. Cause No. 48C06-1308-PL-119.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: THOMAS M. BEEMAN, KYLE B. DEHAVEN, Anderson, Indiana.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: DEBRA A. MASTRIAN, LIBBY Y. GOODKNIGHT, CATHERINE E. SABATINE, Krieg DeVault LLP, Indianapolis, Indiana; ASHLEY HOPPER, City of Anderson, Anderson, Indiana.

BAKER, Judge. KIRSCH, J., and ROBB, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 331

BAKER, Judge

The Town of Lapel (Lapel) appeals the trial court's order granting summary judgment to the City of Anderson (Anderson). After Lapel annexed a parcel of real property located in Madison County, Anderson filed a declaratory judgment action seeking to have the annexation declared invalid and void. The general rule is that the only way to challenge an annexation is via a statutory remonstrance or statutory appeal. Anderson does not meet the criteria to be a remonstrator or a statutory appellant. There are limited exceptions to the general rule, providing that under certain circumstances, a complainant may bring a declaratory judgment action to challenge an annexation. We find that Anderson does not meet these exceptions and that, consequently, it does not have standing to challenge Lapel's annexation. Therefore, we reverse and remand with instructions to enter summary judgment in favor of Lapel.

FACTS

Lapel and Anderson are both municipalities located in Madison County. Anderson recently developed " Anderson Fast Forward," a fiscal and land plan that includes a proposed annexation on the southwest side of Anderson (the Southwest Annexation). On March 14, 2013, however, the Anderson Common Council voted down the Southwest Annexation. Appellant's App. p. 42-43. The end result of that vote was that Anderson elected not to annex the Territory and, as put by Lapel, the vote " effectively kill[ed] the 'Southwest Annexation' if not 'Anderson Fast Forward' all together." Appellant's Br. p. 15.

On May 16, 2013, Lapel adopted an annexation ordinance (the Ordinance) annexing approximately fifty-seven acres (the Territory) along the I-69 corridor and declaring the Territory to be part of Lapel. The Territory is more than one mile beyond Anderson's corporate limits and only a very small percentage of the Territory is contiguous to Lapel. The Territory passes through the Southwest Annexation, so the annexation of the Territory precludes Anderson from pursuing the Southwest Annexation in the future.

On August 9, 2013, Anderson filed a complaint for declaratory judgment against Lapel, seeking, among other things, a declaratory judgment that (1) the Territory is not contiguous with the corporate boundaries of Lapel, (2) the Ordinance is null and void because it violated the Home Rule Act, and (3) that the Ordinance is invalid and unlawful. On November 18, 2013, Lapel moved for summary judgment, and on December 20, 2013, Anderson filed a cross-motion for summary judgment. Following a hearing, the trial court denied Lapel's summary judgment motion and granted Anderson's

Page 332

cross-motion for summary judgment on February 5, 2014. ...


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