Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Court Blocks Chandler Sewers ; Newburgh Retains Rights to SW Corner

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Court Blocks Chandler Sewers ; Newburgh Retains Rights to SW Corner

Article excerpt

The Indiana Court of Appeals has weighed in on the sewer dispute between two Southern Indiana towns. The court ruled that Newburgh's claim to exclusive sewer rights in the southwestern corner of Warrick County is valid, therefore prohibiting Chandler from offering sewer service in the same area. The court ruled that because Newburgh's 2007 ordinance claimed the area before Chandler passed a similar ordinance six weeks later, the court's first-in- time rule applied.

Chandler Town Attorney Anthony Long said the town plans to pursue other options. That could include filing a petition for a rehearing, the first step in taking the case to the Indiana Supreme Court.

"We are not going to give up on this issue," Long said. "We will continue doing what we've been doing. We thought, and we still do, that we have every right to serve that area."

Towns in Indiana have the right to provide sewer service within four miles of their borders. But the territories of Newburgh and Chandler overlap. Both towns had served the area for many years, but Newburgh claimed sole jurisdiction in 2007.

In April 2012, Chandler sued Newburgh in Warrick Superior Court to overturn Newburgh's ordinance. A developer in the disputed area wanted to use Chandler's sewer service because it would be less expensive. Newburgh then sued the developer, Ruskam Development, for violating the ordinance.

Newburgh owns a sewer main in the area, built in part to service Deaconess Gateway Hospital. Newburgh officials have said that $80 million investment - including $10 million from the town's coffers - would be put at risk if Chandler was also granted the ability to put sewers in the same area.

The trial court denied summary judgment for either town. Newburgh pursued the case further, and the Indiana Court of Appeals accepted jurisdiction.

Chandler offered several reasons why it should be allowed to provide service, but the court dismissed them.

Chandler also argued Newburgh's ordinance could chill economic development in the area due to higher tap fees. The court, in a decision written by Senior Judge Randall Shepard, agreed those arguments "possess some weight. …

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