Ordinances not unconstitutionally vague; court erred on issue of pre-connection collection

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Appellants-Defendants, Bledsoe’s, Inc. (Bledsoe’s) and John Cress d/b/a West Otter Lake Estates (Cress), appeal the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to Appellee-Plaintiff, Steuben Lakes Regional Waste District (the District). Cress raises two issues, the first of which Bledsoe’s joins, which we restate as:

(1) Whether Ordinance No. 2002-03 is unconstitutionally vague for failing to define the terms “mobile home park” and “trailer park”; and

(2) Whether Cress should be required to pay sewage fees for the period prior to which his property was connected to the sewage system.

Conclusion (slip op. at 14):  We conclude that the ordinances are not unconstitutionally vague. Further, we conclude that the trial court erred by granting summary judgment to the District on its claim that it had properly billed Cress prior to his property’s connection to the sewage system. Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings.

Key Analysis (slip op. at 9, 13-14):  We conclude that the ordinances are sufficiently specific to provide fair warning to users such as Bledsoe’s and Cress. If customers such as Bledsoe’s and Cress wish to be treated as a campground and billed as a commercial property, their option is clear: reduce the amount of annual accommodations on their real property attributable to mobile homes . . . A substantial portion of the monthly fees billed to Cress were likely attributable to paying for the debt incurred by the District for the installation of the sewage system. Billing customers for such an expense prior to connection would fall within the District’s discretion.

About Bose McKinney & Evans LLP

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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