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Indiana Court of Appeals Issues Recent Annexation Decision

In a recent opinion, the Indiana Court of Appeals reaffirmed the rule that involuntary annexation ordinances can only include parcels that touch one another in Town of Dyer v. Town of St. John, No. 45A03-0908-CV-360 (January 20, 2010). In 2008, the Town of Dyer introduced an ordinance to annex three parcels. All of the parcels adjoined the town, but they did not adjoin each other. The town did not act on the ordinance, and several months later the landowners in these territories petitioned another town, the Town of St. John, for annexation. St. John subsequently adopted two ordinances annexing this land. Dyer attempted to prevent St. John’s annexation by filing for declaratory judgment and an injunction. The Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of Dyer’s complaint and amended compliant because its ordinance was found to be invalid. The court found that the relevant statute’s definition of “contiguous” was ambiguous regarding whether land sought to be annexed by a single ordinance must form a single, uniform body. Relying on and upholding a long history of case law, the court ruled that the statute does not allow parcels to be annexed in a single ordinance when the parcels do not adjoin each other, and if the legislature disagreed with this interpretation of the term contiguous, it would have drafted a new definition.

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