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MacFadyen v. City of Angola

Court of Appeals of Indiana

February 12, 2016

David J. and Susan L. MacFadyen, Appellants-Plaintiffs,
v.
City of Angola, City of Angola Plan Commission, and Trine University, Inc., Appellees-Defendants

          Appeal from the DeKalb Superior Court. The Honorable Kevin P. Wallace, Judge. Trial Court Cause No. 17D01-1203-CT-14.

         ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANTS: Stephen L. Fink, Barnes and Thornburg, LLP, Fort Wayne, Indiana.

         ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES CITY OF ANGOLA AND CITY OF ANGOLA PLAN COMMISSION: Richard P. Samek, Esq., Larry L. Barnard, Esq., Carson Boxberger LLP, Fort Wayne, Indiana.

         ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE TRINE UNIVERSITY, INC.: Robert D. Moreland, Angola, Indiana.

         May, Judge. Najam, J., and Riley, J., concur.

          OPINION

         May, Judge.

         [¶1] David and Susan MacFadyen appeal a decision by the Angola Plan Commission to vacate a portion of an alley on Trine University property near the MacFadyens' property. As the MacFadyens did not show they were aggrieved by the vacation, we affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] The MacFadyens own lot 6 in J. Darling's Addition to the City of Angola, and their property is contiguous to property Trine owns. An alley runs east to west from Darling Street, along the back of the MacFadyens' lot, and through Trine's property to University Avenue. The portion of the alley on Trine's real estate is not improved; it is grass-covered, and there is no curb cut where the alley meets University Avenue.

         [¶3] Trine petitioned the Commission to vacate certain lot lines and the part of the alley that is on Trine's real estate. The vacation petition did not include that part of the alley located behind the MacFadyens' lot, and the MacFadyens can still access their property by using the remaining portion of the alley that runs east to Darling Street.

         [¶4] The Commission heard evidence that the value of the land in the platted area that Trine did not own would not be diminished by the vacation, and Trine's development activities in the platted area had not caused a decrease in property values and might have increased them. David MacFadyen stated he believed vacation of the part of the alley on Trine's property would have " substantial negative impact" on the value of his property because " [o]ne could drive west through the alley all the way to College (now University), or turn southbound to access Gale Street. [Trine] now seeks to cut off this access." (App. at 188.)

         [¶5] The Commission approved Trine's petition.

         Discussion and Decision

         [¶6] Decisions of an area plan commission are subject to the same process of review as are local zoning decisions. Area Plan Comm'n, Evansville - Vanderburgh Cnty. v. Hatfield, 820 N.E.2d 696, 698 (Ind.Ct.App. 2005), trans. denied. Decisions of a zoning board are subject to court review by certiorari. Ind. Code § 36-7-4-1003. Only a person aggrieved[1] by a decision of the board may petition for certiorari review by the courts. Hatfield, 820 N.E.2d at 698. In interpreting what it means to be " aggrieved" for purposes of the statute, our Supreme Court has said the person must experience a " substantial grievance, a ...


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