ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANTS ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEES
SUPREME COURT OF
George M. Plews John C. Parkinson
Jeffrey A. Townsend Assistant City Attorney
Indianapolis, Indiana Terre Haute, Indiana
John Christopher Wall
Terre Haute, Indiana
LARRY AND SALLY ARNOLD, et al., )
Appellants (Remonstrators ), ) in the Supreme Court )
v. ) 84A04-9807-CV-368
) in the Court of Appeals
CITY OF TERRE HAUTE, INDIANA, )
Appellee (Defendant ). )
Appeal from the Vigo Superior Court
The Honorable Frank M. Nardi, Special Judge
Cause No. 84D01-9803-CP-399
March 29, 2000
SHEPARD, Chief Justice.
How do you count the remonstrators to an annexation in order to tell
whether a majority of the owners of land have remonstrated, as required by
Ind. Code § 36-4-3-11(a)?
The simplest practice has been to count the number of parcels and then
count how many of these parcels have owners who have objected, without attempting
to account for the fact that some people may own more than one
parcel in the annexed territory. This has explicitly been the law at
least since City of Fort Wayne v. Landowners, 564 N.E.2d 297 (Ind. Ct.
App. 1990), trans. denied.
In this case, a divided Court of Appeals rejected City of Ft. Wayne
v. Landowners and held that an owner of multiple parcels should be considered
as an owner of one parcel for purposes of determining whether there is
an adequate number of remonstrators to invoke the jurisdiction of the courts.
In re Remonstrance Appealing Special Ordinance, 712 N.E.2d 529 (Ind. Ct. App. 1999).
The majority of the panel relied on language in subsection 11(a) providing
for remonstrance by a majority of the owners of land in the annexed
territory. This suggested to the majority that the legislature wanted each remonstrator
and each owner counted just once, rather than counted for each parcel they
may own. Id. at 531.
We granted transfer to resolve this conflict. Perceiving no advantage or disadvantage
to landowners or municipalities under either approach, we elect to follow the method
outlined in City of Ft. Wayne v. Landowners as representing relatively settled and
The decision in City of Ft. Wayne has for some time been the
only explicit holding on this point of law and comports with our own
understanding of how the statute has historically been viewed.
To the extent
that the statute contains a suggestion on this point, the suggestion is found
in a part of subsection 11(b), which says: Only one (1) person
having an interest in each single property, as evidenced by the tax duplicate,
is considered a landowner for purposes of this section. Like the panel
in City of Ft. Wayne, we think this subsection suggests a regime better
described as one-parcel-one-vote than as one-owner-one-vote.
Accordingly, we vacate the opinion of the Court of Appeals in this case
and affirm the trial court.
Dickson, Sullivan, Boehm, and Rucker, JJ., concur.
It thus reversed the trial court, which had dismissed the remonstrance on
the basis of City of Ft. Wayne .
While the remonstrators find solace in Soys v. City of Crown Point ,
691 N.E.2d 1237 (Ind. Ct. App. 1998), and Petercheff v. City of Indianapolis ,
178 N.E.2d 746 (Ind. 1961), it is apparent that those cases contained description
of how the counting occurred but did not address the question of whether
the method was proper.