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The City of Springfield Had Standing to Challenge Papillion’s Annexation

on Friday, 2 September 2016 in Dirt Alert: David C. Levy, Editor

City of Springfield v. City of Papillion, 294 Neb. 604 (2016).

In 1995, Sarpy County identified certain land as an area of future growth and development for Springfield. Sarpy County took this action under the County Industrial Sewer Construction Act (the “Act”). In July, 2015, however, Papillion annexed some of the area Sarpy County had previously identified.

Springfield sued Papillion and Sarpy County to enjoin the annexation. The District Court of Sarpy County held Springfield lacked standing. Springfield appealed.

The sole issue on appeal was whether Springfield had standing to challenge the annexation, even though the land was outside of Springfield’s boundaries and its extraterritorial jurisdiction for zoning and platting. Springfield alleged the annexation interfered with its governmental functions. In County of Sarpy v. City of Gretna, 267 Neb. 943, 949–50 (2004), the Nebraska Supreme Court held when a city annexed land within a county’s borders, the city infringed on a county’s governmental function, and the county had a legally protectable interest. Whether a city may challenge an annexation that infringes on the city’s powers over areas of future growth and development, however, was an issue of first impression.

The Nebraska Supreme Court held Springfield has standing under the Act to challenge the annexation. First, if Papillion requested to revise the map of Springfield’s future growth, the Act entitled Springfield to notice and a public hearing. Second, if Sarpy County proposed any development of the property, the Act required Sarpy County to give Springfield notice of any plans for sewage systems. Third, Springfield was able to appoint half of the members on the urbanizing planning commission with veto power over residential connections to sewage systems in the area. Papillion’s annexation deprived Springfield of these rights, and thus the Court held that Springfield has standing to challenge the annexation. The Court therefore remanded the case to the District Court of Sarpy County for further proceedings on the merits.

Hannah K. Fischer

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