by Allison Arends
Oglesby, et al v. City Of Coralville
(Iowa Court of Appeals, November 25, 2009)
Scanlon Properties submitted an application to the City of Coralville for annexation of property it owned, including a half mile of the right-of-way for North Liberty Road that connects the city to the Scalon property. The property is in the two-mile extraterritorial area of the city of North Liberty. Owners of adjacent property to the proposed annexed land filed a petition seeking a write of certiorari, a declaratory judgment and injunctive relief. The petition alleged that the city had not complied with Iowa Code section 368.7 (1)(b) and (d) when it failed to provide required notice of the annexation. Additionally the plaintiffs argued that although Iowa Code chapter 368 allows the annexation of adjoining land, this particular annexation involved a “shoestring” or “umbilical cord” annexation in which the annexation included noncontiguous land that was only connected to the city through the proposed annexation of one half-mile of a right-of-way. Despite the petition, the City Council voted to approve the annexation application.
At the district court hearing, the city moved to dismiss the petition arguing that the plaintiff’s failed to exhaust all administrative remedies with a state agency and that because they did not own property within the territory of the proposed annexation, the plaintiffs lacked standing .The district court denied their dismissal and enacted a temporary injunction which prevented the city, “from taking further action on the proposed Scanlon property annexation until such time as it complies with all statutory notice requirements.”
The city, in its appeal, first argued that the plaintiffs failed in exhausting all administrative remedies specifically because the City Development Board had not yet approved the annexation, and therefore a judiciary decision on the annexation violated the very principle of exhaustion remedies. The court responds by noting that it is, “well established that a party must exhaust any available administrative remedy before seeking relief in the courts.” “The exhaustion doctrine applies when (1) an adequate administrative remedy exists and (2) the governing statute requires the remedy to be exhausted before allowing judicial review.” The court found that there was not an adequate administrative remedy available, because the City Development Board’s review of annexations within the extraterritorial area of another city does not include review to ensure compliance with the landowner notification requirements. The CDB would not have had information about the extent to which landowners were notified before the city acted, and therefore concluded that, “a resort to the Board to rectify a failure by the city to give notice is permissive only, not exclusive of the judicial remedy.”
In response to the city’s claim that the plaintiffs lacked standing because they did not own property within the territory of the proposed annexation, the court noted that Iowa Code section 368.7 provides that, “Any approval must occur at a public hearing. At least fourteen days before that hearing, the city must provide written notice to certain entities and landowners, including any non-consenting owners of property in the territory to be annexed and any owners of property adjoining the territory to be annexed.” The court concluded that plaintiffs were entitled to notice, and thus had standing as owners of land adjacent to the road. The district court’s decision was affirmed.