The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Local Politics

August 9, 2013

Anderson files suit against Lapel over 'strip' annexation

City wants courts to invalidate blocking move

ANDERSON, Ind. —

Mayor Kevin Smith isn't ready to give up his hope of expanding Anderson's corporate boundaries down to Exit 214 along Interstate 69.

His administration on Friday filed a lawsuit in Madison Circuit Court 6 challenging a "super-voluntary" strip annexation the Lapel Town Council passed at the request of a group of landowners intent on blocking Anderson's expansion efforts. The town's annexation extends from Lapel down to Pendleton.

City lawyers argue in court documents that Lapel's annexation, which was recorded on May 30, violates Indiana's Home Rule Act because it does not comply with state annexation laws. Specifically, the lawsuit contends that Lapel's annexation does not meet contiguity requirements in state law and is therefore invalid and unlawful.

The total perimeter of the annexed territory is 25,719 feet, of which only 311 feet is contiguous with Lapel's current town boundaries, according to the city. State law requires annexations to be at least one-eighth contiguous with existing boundaries; Lapel's annexation is only a fraction of that.

The lawsuit asserts a right to challenge Lapel's annexation because 26.44 acres, or about 44.5 percent of the annexed land is located within three miles of Anderson's boundaries.

Anderson officials want the courts to determine whether Lapel exceeded its authority under the Home Rule Act with the May annexation, "despite the fact the annexation did not meet the statutory requirements for contiguity in Indiana’s annexation laws,” City Attorney Ashley Hopper said in a prepared statement.

Reached for comment on Friday, Lapel Town Councilman Clay Parkison said the lawsuit is a waste of taxpayer money that won't succeed in part because the rules concerning "super-voluntary" annexations differ from other types of annexation.

"I hate that there's going to be such a waste of funds that could be used for something else," he said.

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