How Do Municipalities Plan for Expansion and Development?
As populations continue to grow and cities continue to expand, Indiana Municipalities are faced with many obstacles. One of their most prominent challenges involves how to control, direct, and plan for the physical expansion of the city. If the Municipality knows that a particular property will be developed in the future, oftentimes that property is annexed and incorporated into the city limits. However, if development is uncertain but the Municipality still wants to ensure that city planning and building standards are followed in case development occurs later, the Municipality is empowered to enact Extra Territorial Jurisdiction (“ETJ”) over a selected subject property. In general, ETJ allows Municipalities to impose their zoning and development standards on properties that are close to the city, but not formally annexed into the city.
How Does a Municipality Establish Extra Territorial Jurisdiction?
Indiana Code section 36-7-4-205 allows Municipalities to establish an ETJ through a specific process involving a joint effort between officials from the Municipality and the County where the subject property is located. This process requires that the Municipality establish a comprehensive development plan for the city and that subject property bears reasonable relation to the development of the Municipality. Once this comprehensive development plan is created, the County legislative body must approve the plan and the Municipality’s ETJ over the subject property. In addition to the County’s approval, the Municipality’s plan commission must file a description or map defining the limits of the subject property with the County before it can take action on the property. If the Municipality’s plan commission changes the subject property’s limits, it will then have to file a revised description or map defining those new limits.
Is Extra Territorial Jurisdiction Similar to Annexation?
It is important to emphasize that ETJ is not a true annexation – the County will still retain taxing authority of the subject property. There should not be any new taxing or changes in services for the subject property. The Municipality typically will not provide any public services, including sewer, water, or trash pick-up, to areas involved with ETJ. The subject property does not become part of the Municipality – it only becomes subject to zoning control by the Municipality.
Benefits of Extra Territorial Jurisdiction
While this type of zoning often results in questions or unease from County residents, it does offer benefits. By controlling the subject area’s development early through the ETJ, the Municipality does not have to speculatively annex property adjacent to the city, but it can still ensure that city development standards are imposed and followed. Building and zoning standards of the Municipality are typically more established and stringent than those of the County. This means that any development in the ETJ areas will be held to a Municipality’s generally more specific standards. This benefits residents of the County through improved building practices without additional taxation and benefits the Municipality’s residents without additional or unnecessary infrastructure expenses.
If you have additional questions about ETJ or zoning issues in general, McNeelyLaw’s real estate team routinely assists our clients in these types of matters in counties all around the state. Contact us today at (317) 825-5110 to discuss your matter.
This McNeelyLaw LLP publication should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion of any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own lawyer on any specific legal questions you may have concerning your situation.