Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Judge Rules Against Carmel in Forced Annexation Issue

Excellent breaking news for supporters of property rights and the right to self-determination, as a Judge has ruled against Carmel's effort to forcibly annex the Southwest Clay area. From the Indy Star's initial report:

Hamilton Superior Court Judge William Hughes issued the ruling this morning in favor of four petitioners fighting annexation of the area. The ruling comes after a three-day trial at the end of February.

Hughes found that Carmel had not met its legal burden to prove annexation is in the best interests of Southwest Clay Township residents. Hughes is the same judge who, in October, blocked Carmel's attempt to annex Home Place, the 1.4-square-mile community just east of southwest Clay Township. The city is appealing that decision.

Of course the City of Carmel is appealing. These are tax-and-spend Republicans at work!

Residents of Geist have been watching for developments in this case, as Fishers had shelved its' plan to forcibly annex Geist neighborhoods until they learned the results of the Carmel-SW Clay case.

It is likely that the Fishers Town Council will now either give up on its forced annexation plans or further shelve the item to await the outcome of Carmel's appeal. That could be a very lengthy wait.

Here are some details from Tom Britt's report on
First, SW Clay already receives adequate police and fire protection. The legal issue that arose was whether or not SW Clay “provides” their own fire protection since they hire Carmel firefighters and own the firestation that they use. In their case, just as is the case with Geist homeowners, Clay Township actually built the firestation and has a contract with Carmel to provide firefighters and staffing. The judge ruled in favor of SW Clay and agreed that through this relationship, they were already providing this service.

Secondly, the court agreed with landowners that the tax impact would be “significant”. In this case, SW Clay residents were looking at a 21.4% property tax increase; the same type of increase Geist property owners would be looking at. By pulling tax records of the remonstrators, Carmel tried to show that the residents could afford a 21.4% increase. However, the judge ruled that it didn’t matter if they could afford it or not, it was significant and that was all that mattered.

Thirdly, Judge Hughes did not see this annexation in the best interests of SW Clay landowners. Remember, in order for a municipality to overcome a remonstration, they have the burden of proof that the annexation is in the best interests of the residents. He cited that Carmel had not provided sewer or water to the entire territory, and therefore this was not in the SW Clay residents’ best interests.

Obviously these forced annexations aren't in the best interests of those being subjected to it. In business, this is the equivalent of a hostile takeover, or in foreign policy, an act of war. When people believe being added to a municipality is in their best interest, they voluntarily petition to be annexed.

Let's hope to appeal is summarily dismissed.


Anonymous said...

I'm happy to see the ruling in the Carmel annexation case. The ruling by Judge Hughes was fair and sensible. I believe the next step is to band together with fellow Hoosiers to change the Indiana annexation laws so that communities that do not have the resources to fight these battles do not have to suffer. Indiana annexation laws are very unfavorable to its residents (and very favorable to municipalities). This joke of a law needs to be changed. I only hope there's a politician out there with the decency to do it!!!

Bob Thompson said...

Great victory against the arrogant Town and City Councils and their leadership. Lets not let up, as I personally found out these greedy politicians will go to any extreme to get what they want, even through intimidation.

Tom Britt said...

Mike, thanks for your support on this issue. I predict that this issue will go to the state supreme court, which will be good for all of us. It will finally put this local issue on the state stage and maybe, just maybe, state legislators will look at it and repeal the laws that allowed them to do this.

I thought the quote from the Carmel expert on annexation in the Indy Star today was very encouraging. Remember, this guy testified AGAINST SW Clay. He said "This effectively shuts down annexation". I like the sounds of that.

We are not getting our hopes up, and we're not letting down our guard over here at the group. We'll keep the pressure on and make the Fishers Town Council deal with the facts and laws of the land.

Mike Kole said...

Tom, et al-

As a Libertarian candidate, I will be promoting the enactment of legislation that would outlaw forced annexation.

My first thought is to contact Rep. David Wolkins and Sen. Jeff Drozda, both of whom are ardent defenders of property rights, and who were instrumental in writing law curtailing the use & abuse of eminent domain in Indiana. I believe they will be open to this.

I will urge the Libertarian Party's candidates for the legislature to adopt this position into their own platforms. With enough pressure, we can make this state law.

J.Q.F.R. said...

Arrogance and intimidation? Seems you're getting a taste of your own medicine! Hey pot, this is kettle. You're black!

As I've said before, similar situations are almost never identical and your situation is far from the one in SW Clay. There is a preponderance of evidence that your area is already part of the town of Fishers (except those of you that don't even live in Hamilton county) unlike the situation there. You all had better get in touch with the people that you purport to represent before you waste a lot of time and money fighting the inevitable.

Mike Kole said...

JQFR, right on the money, except that Geist isn't part of the Town, and that Fishers was holding off on proceeding until they got the results of the Carmel case. If they weren't similar, there wouldn't be anything to learn from it.

Can you substantiate your charge of intimidation by the Geist people? I'd love to see it.

Tom Britt said...

Who's wasting money here? Carmel has wasted over $1 million already and they still don't have Home Place or Southwest Clay.