FIRE SUIT: Newest legal battle dismissed

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By Thomas Barr

 SHEPHERDSVILLE – The city of Shepherdsville has been successful in having another lawsuit involving the Southeast Bullitt Fire Protection District dismissed.

Bullitt Circuit Judge Rodney Burress granted attorney Joseph Wantland’s motion for summary judgment in asking to dismiss the latest complaint.

The original conflict between the city and the fire district dates back to 1999.

In the latest complaint, the fire district challenged the annexations of property done by the city which grew the municipal boundaries.

The parties recently had a hearing on the matter.

Wantland argued that in 2011, the two parties had agreed upon a settlement and that included the boundaries of the city.

Attorney Alan Dodd, representing the fire district, argued that the annexation issue had never been raised. The matters in the previous lawsuit dealt with whether the city had a regular fire department and any damages which needed to be paid.

In his ruling, Burress, who was very stern in his comments during the earlier hearing on this particular case, wrote that it was not proper to revisit the old issues of boundaries.

In his final order on Dec. 22, 2011, Burress said that there had been no appeal or any motion to set aside that judgment.

“It is further ordered that the boundaries, and area, of the fire protection district, and department, which are parties to this suit shall be established…,” Burress wrote.

Burress said the current lawsuit challenged both the previous annexations as well as several done since the 2011 settlement.

In that agreement, the parties agreed that the territory within the city limits were “lawfully annexed by the City of Shepherdville shall be considered stricken from the boundaries of the Southeast Bullitt Fire Protection District.”

Burress said that challenging the past agreement was not proper.

“A challenge to the annexation would change boundaries in direct contradiction to the settlement agreement and final order of this court,” wrote Burress. “Southeast Bullitt Fire Protection District agreed not only to be bound by lawful annexations, but also agreed that those lawful annexations are described with particularity in the attached exhibit”, which was a map of the territory.

Wantland presented the map with signatures from each party as an exhibit again in this suit.

While the original suit dealt primarily with the status of the fire department and the payment for any indebtedness, Burress said he also had to consider whether the territory in the dispute was actually in the corporate limits.

Due to the dispute over the actual territory, Burress said that was made part of the settlement agreement.

None of the annexations surveyed by Brad Armstrong prior to Dec. 20, 2011, could be part of the latest lawsuit, said Burress.

There was some question over the subsequent annexations. However, Burress said that he was satisfied that all the most recent annexations were done properly with the consent of the landowners, who waived any objections.

In considering the complaint, Burress ruled on Thursday that Wantland’s motion for summary judgment was granted. The plaintiffs can appeal that decision within 30 days.