News and Tribune

March 20, 2013

City retains control of fringe area

Floyd Commissioners unanimously agree to appeal decision

By DANIEL SUDDEATH
daniel.suddeath@newsandtribune.com

NEW ALBANY — New Albany will retain zoning control of the two-mile fringe area in Floyd County as affirmed by a judge this week. 

On Monday, Special Judge Roger Duvall released his summary judgment on Floyd County’s attempt to assume zoning control of the fringe land, and he ruled New Albany followed the necessary steps to have authority of the area. He ruled void the Floyd County Commissioners’ ordinance from September that was to revoke the city’s zoning control of the fringe area. 

“Judge Duvall’s ruling reiterates the clear meaning of Indiana statutes as they relate to the city’s ability to exercise jurisdiction in the fringe area,” City Attorney Stan Robison stated in a news release provided by the administration after contacted for comment by the News and Tribune. “The county wasted time, energy and money trying to implement ordinances which were in clear violation of state statute.” 

The Floyd County Commissioners unanimously voted Tuesday night to appeal the decision. Commissioner Mark Seabrook said the only reason the county passed an ordinance in September was to help residents try and solve problems that were being ignored by the city. He said every time someone from the fringe area would have a drainage problem or other zoning issue, they would be told by the city plan commission or city council to go to the county with their complaint. The commissioners used the flooding problems along Tye Avenue as an example. 

During a public hearing hosted by the county on the proposed change in control last year, several fringe residents said they felt like they were underrepresented and had trouble finding the right department to assist them. 

One of the state provisions for a city to exercise zoning jurisdiction in a fringe area is it must provide a municipal service to the area, which Duvall ruled that New Albany does by offering sewer and building enforcement. 

The county had claimed that sewer service was insufficient to meet the state guidelines of providing a municipal service. 

According to the court record, New Albany began exercising control of planning and zoning in the area in 1972. New Albany has the authority to hold zoning and planning control in the fringe territory because it has followed the necessary state statutes, according to the ruling. 

“Based on Floyd County’s current financial status, they are probably relieved that they do not have to take on the additional expenses of planning and zoning in this area,” Mayor Jeff Gahan stated in the news release. “Just as we have for the last 200 years, we are determined to plan the strong and responsible growth of the city of New Albany. Hopefully, in the future, we will have the cooperation of Floyd County elected officials.” 

Fringe residents aren’t allowed to vote in New Albany elections.