Metropolitan Development Commission of Marion County v. Pinnacle Media, LLC

836 N.E.2d 422 (2006)

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Metropolitan Development Commission of Marion County v. Pinnacle Media, LLC

Indiana Supreme Court
836 N.E.2d 422 (2006)

Facts

In July 1999, the City of Indianapolis (the city) (defendant) advised Pinnacle Media, LLC (Pinnacle) (plaintiff), a company that erected and leased advertising billboards, that the city’s zoning ordinance did not cover interstate highway rights-of-way within the city and that a city location permit was not necessary for billboards proposed to be built in those rights-of-way. After receiving this information, Pinnacle developed a three-step plan for erecting billboards without city permits: (1) lease land in appropriate interstate highway rights-of-way, (2) obtain permits from the state of Indiana, and (3) erect billboards without seeking city permits. Pinnacle used this plan to successfully erect two billboards in 1999. Pinnacle then leased land and submitted state applications to erect 15 additional billboards. The last application for this group of billboards was submitted on April 19, 2000. The state denied all 15 of Pinnacle’s applications, and Pinnacle appealed. On July 10, 2000, while Pinnacle’s state permit appeal was pending, the city amended its zoning ordinance to require city location permits for all billboards erected in interstate highway rights-of-way. Nearly one year later, the state granted permits for 10 of Pinnacle’s proposed billboards. Pinnacle began work on one of the billboards without seeking a location permit from the city, and the city issued a stop-work order. Pinnacle filed a declaratory-judgment action against the city, and the trial court granted summary judgment in Pinnacle’s favor, finding that the amended zoning ordinance was inapplicable to the 10 billboards. The court of appeals affirmed, and the city appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Sullivan, J.)

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