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City Of Springfield v. Clty of Papillion

Supreme Court of Nebraska

August 26, 2016

City of Springfield, Nebraska, a Nebraska municipal corporation, appellant,
v.
Clty of Papillion, Nebraska, a Nebraska Municipal Corporation, And County of Sarpy, Nebraska, A Body Corporate And Politic, Appellees.

         1. Judgments: Jurisdiction: Appeal and Error. Determination of a jurisdictional issue which does not involve a factual dispute is a matter of law which requires an appellate court to reach its conclusions independent from a trial court.

         2. Standing: Words and Phrases. Standing involves a real interest in the cause of action, meaning some legal or equitable right, title, or interest in the subject matter of the controversy.

         3. Standing: Claims: Parties: Proof. To have standing, a litigant must assert its own rights and interests and demonstrate an injury in fact, which is concrete in both a qualitative and temporal sense. The alleged injury in fact must be distinct and palpable, as opposed to merely abstract, and the alleged harm must be actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical.

         4. Annexation: Proof. To challenge an annexation, the plaintiff must show (1) a personal, pecuniary, and legal interest that has been affected by the annexation and (2) the existence of an injury to that interest that is personal in nature.

         Appeal from the District Court for Sarpy County: William B. Zastera, Judge.

          William E. Seidler, Jr., of Seidler & Seidler, PC, for appellant.

         [294 Neb. 605] Karla R. Rupiper, Papillion City Attorney, and Jessica E. Thomas for appellee City of Papillion.

          Heavican, C.J., Wright, Miller-Lerman, Cassel, and Stacy, JJ.

          Heavican, C.J.

         NATURE OF CASE

         The City of Springfield, Nebraska, filed this action against the City of Papillion, Nebraska, and the County of Sarpy, Nebraska (County), seeking to enjoin Papillion from annexing land which had been indicated as Springfield's area of future growth in a map adopted by the County in 1995. The district court for Sarpy County found that Springfield lacked standing and Springfield appeals.

         BACKGROUND

         In 1994, the Nebraska Legislature passed the County Industrial Sewer Construction Act (Act).[1] The Act's legislative findings indicate that the Legislature intended to attract commercial and industrial development by sharing costs of sewer development across counties and by giving counties the authority to manage construction of these sewers.[2] As part of this program, certain municipalities were granted new authority to prevent counties from expanding the use of sewers for residential development in areas of the municipality's predicted future growth and development.[3] These municipalities were also given authority to appoint members of urbanizing area planning commissions.[4]

         Under procedures outlined in the Act, a 1995 resolution passed by the County identified a parcel of land south of Highway 370 as part of Springfield's area of future growth and [294 Neb. 606] development. However, in July 2015, Papillion enacted ordinances Nos. 1715 and 1716, annexing some of this area.

         Springfield filed suit, claiming the annexation was invalid under Neb. Rev. Stat. §§ 16-117 to 16-130 (Reissue 2012). It sought temporary and permanent injunctive relief against Papillion and the County. The district court initially granted a temporary restraining order, but after a hearing, the district court dismissed the case for lack of standing. The district court agreed with the defendants' contention that the "Act is in place primarily for [the] County's planning and construction of sewer systems, and [the] County's associate Future Growth Map is an ever evolving tool." Therefore, the district court found the Act did not grant Springfield standing.

         ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR

         Springfield assigns, consolidated into one assignment of error, that the district court erred by dismissing the suit for lack of standing.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Determination of a jurisdictional issue which does not involve a factual dispute is a matter of law which requires an appellate court to reach its ...


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