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January 16, 2014

Court rules in New Albany’s favor over fringe area

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Court of Appeals on Thursday affirmed that the city of New Albany has zoning jurisdiction over an unicorporated area just outside the city limits.

“I feel vindicated,” said New Albany City Attorney Stan Robison. “I feel it’s a good decision. It redefines everything involving the fringe area and it’s indisputable what they held.”

In Floyd County and Floyd County Plan Commission v. City of New Albany and New Albany City Plan Commission, the county and city sought declaratory judgment on the issue of whether the city or the county controlled zoning in the area.

The city contends it has control because Floyd County has fewer than 95,000 residents as shown by the 2010 census and the city has elected to exercise jurisdiction in the fringe area and has given notice to the county. The county contends that it should be in control because the county has now adopted a comprehensive plan and an ordinance to terminate the city’s jurisdiction over the fringe area.

New Albany had been providing sanitary sewer services to the fringe area since the 1970s. It also provided building code and enforcement services in the designated area. The county argued that the city wasn’t providing multiple municipal services as required by statute.

“We can say, though, that the legislature has set a minimum standard for the exercise of extraterritorial jurisdiction by requiring a city to provide ‘municipal services,’ plural. But it has not set a specific standard by requiring the provision of all or of certain municipal services,” Judge Margret Robb said in the release. “The county asks this court to set a standard beyond that clearly set in the statute itself, and that is a job reserved to the legislature.”

Floyd County Attorney Rick Fox said the Floyd County Commissioners now have two options moving forward — they can ask the Court of Appeals for a hearing reconsideration or they can ask to have the case transferred to the Indiana Supreme Court. The Supreme Court can accept or reject the request for transfer.

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