Annexation appealed to Supreme Court

By: 
CHARLIE DENISON
Reporter

Following the Montana Tenth Judicial District Court’s ruling in favor of the City’s annexation of properties adjacent to Castle Butte Road, Roundhouse Road, Southland Road and Reservoir Drive, some residents living in the area (members of the Landowners Rights Association) filed an appeal to the Montana Supreme Court.

The LRA asked the court to review whether or not the District Court abused its discretion by granting summary judgment in favor of the City of Lewistown and “thereby declaring there were no genuine issues of material fact and the moving party was entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” They also want to know if the resulting annexation is “in the best interest of the city and inhabitants of the annexed area” and “does the court have the jurisdiction to rule on the City’s determination of best interest?”

The 47-page document essentially claims, “issues of material fact existed, and judgment as a matter of law was not warranted.” LRA also claims the City did not follow certain statutes regarding a contiguous annexation. It is the LRA’s belief the District Count’s granting of summary judgment should be reversed.

In December, the City of Lewistown filed a response to the LRA’s petition, arguing the annexation “is in the best interest of the City and the inhabitants of the parcels…sought to be annexed.” The City also states the Commission found “less than a majority of real property owners of the areas proposed for annexation submitted valid protests.”

Furthermore, the City stated the LRA presented new arguments regarding the corrected map presented at a commission meeting, saying it states  “no field survey was performed.” This argument, they claim, was not presented during the original hearing and “nothing kept the plaintiffs from bringing these arguments.” It is their opinion allowing these arguments now “would fly in the face of the Court’s established rule that it will not consider new arguments and legal theories on appeal.” The City claims to have fully complied with the statutes for annexation of contiguous property, claims there is a plat or certificate of survey on file for all annexed lands and claims they did not violate equal protection of the law.

LRA plaintiffs have until July 30 to respond to the City’s 43-page brief, according to the clerk of Montana Supreme Court’s office. Once their response is filed, the judicial assistant to the chief justice will give the briefs to all seven Supreme Court justices. At least five justices will respond, either affirming the district court’s decision or remanding the case back to district court for another hearing. Response from the justices can take up to 180 days.

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