Commissioners had authority to pass fire protection ordinance

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After the Brown County Board of Commissioners (“the Commissioners”) passed an ordinance creating a county-wide fire protection district, several property owners (hereinafter referred to as “the Freeholders”) filed a complaint in Brown Circuit Court requesting a declaratory judgment that the ordinance was void. After summary judgment motions were filed, the trial court entered summary judgment in favor of the Intervenor-Defendant, the Board of Fire Trustees (“the Trustees”), and concluded that the Commissioners had the authority to create a fire protection district pursuant to Indiana Code section 36-8-11-4. The Freeholders appeal and argue that the Commissioners lacked statutory authority to create a fire protection district.

Complaint (slip op. at 9): We conclude that the Commissioners had the authority pursuant to section 36-8-11-4 to pass the Ordinance, which created a county-wide fire protection district. Accordingly, the trial court properly entered summary judgment in favor of the Trustees. Affirmed.

Key Analysis (slip op. at 9): If the General Assembly intended the freeholder petition process to be a prerequisite for the establishment of the fire protection district by the county legislative body, it could have easily provided for such limitation in [the Indiana Code] . . . the General Assembly desired to empower freeholders with the ability to create the fire protection district if the county legislative body does not do so.

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Bose McKinney & Evans LLP is a business law firm, headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, serving both publicly held and privately held businesses, governmental entities and high-growth industries. Our clients include Fortune 100 companies, international manufacturers, national and regional financial institutions, agribusinesses, sports teams, university-incubated start-ups, media, utilities, cities and schools, to name a few. We strive to build strong relationships with our clients as key business advisors, to exceed expectations in the quality of our work, to be knowledgeable about our clients’ businesses and sectors, to be responsive to service needs and to continually seek to improve the delivery of client services. Our ultimate focus is on our clients.
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