Town of Miami v. City of Globe

Citation985 P.2d 1035,195 Ariz. 176
Decision Date01 October 1998
Docket NumberNo. 2CA-CV98-0025.,2CA-CV98-0025.
PartiesTOWN OF MIAMI, a municipal corporation of the State of Arizona, Petitioner/Appellant/Cross-Appellee, v. CITY OF GLOBE, a municipal corporation of the State of Arizona, Respondent/Appellee/Cross-Appellant.
CourtCourt of Appeals of Arizona

Law Offices of William E. Farrell By William E. Farrell, Scottsdale, for Petitioner/Appellant/Cross-Appellee.

William L. Tifft, Globe City Attorney, Globe and Kane Jorden von Oppenfeld, Bischoff & Biskind, P.L.C., By Douglas A. Jorden and Amy E. Altshuler, Phoenix, Attorneys for Respondent/Appellee/Cross-Appellant.

BRAMMER, Presiding Judge.

¶ 1 Appellant Town of Miami challenged appellee City of Globe's annexation of land west of Globe, claiming that the parcel to be annexed was not contiguous to Globe as required by A.R.S. § 9-471(A)(1) and defined by § 9-471(H)(3). Although the trial court found Miami had standing to challenge the annexation, the court granted summary judgment in favor of Globe on the ground that Globe had substantially complied with the statutory annexation requirements. Because Globe was required to strictly, rather than substantially, comply with the statutory requirement that a parcel to be annexed be contiguous to the city seeking its annexation, and because Globe failed to strictly comply with the statute, we reverse. We reject Globe's claims in its cross-appeal1 that the trial court erred in finding that it had failed to strictly comply with the statute and in finding that Miami had standing to challenge the annexation.

Facts and Procedural History

¶ 2 In reviewing a grant of summary judgment, we review the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Martinez v. Woodmar IV Condominiums Homeowners Ass'n, 189 Ariz. 206, 941 P.2d 218 (1997). So viewed, the facts show that in July 1996, the Globe City Council enacted Ordinance No. 677, annexing approximately ninety-three acres of land abutting Globe's western boundary and located east of Miami. Miami moved for summary judgment, claiming that the ordinance did not comply with the provisions of A.R.S. § 9-471(A)(1) because the parcel to be annexed was not contiguous, as that term is defined by subsection (H)(3), because its length was more than twice its width. Globe filed a cross-motion for summary judgment on the grounds that Miami lacked standing to challenge the annexation, that the parcel was contiguous, and that, even if the contiguity requirement was not strictly met, Globe had substantially complied with it. In granting Globe's motion for summary judgment, the trial court found that Miami had standing to challenge the annexation. The court also found that, although Globe had not strictly complied with the contiguity requirement, the statute only required substantial compliance and that Globe had substantially complied with it. On appeal, Miami challenges the trial court's conclusion that Globe was only required to substantially comply with the statute. In its cross-appeal, Globe contends the findings that Miami had standing to challenge the annexation and that Globe had failed to strictly comply with the statute are erroneous.

Standard of Review

¶ 3 Summary judgment is proper if "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and ... the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Ariz. R. Civ. P. 56(c), 16 A.R.S. "When reviewing a grant of summary judgment on undisputed facts, our role is to determine whether the trial court correctly applied the substantive law to [the] facts." St. Luke's Health Sys. v. State, 180 Ariz. 373, 376, 884 P.2d 259, 262 (App. 1994).

Standing

¶ 4 Section 9-471 sets forth the procedures, restrictions and other matters related to annexation of property by a city or town. In pertinent part, § 9-471(C) provides: "Any city or town, the attorney general, the county attorney, or any other interested party may upon verified petition move to question the validity of the annexation for failure to comply with the provisions of this section." In ruling that Miami had standing to challenge the annexation, the trial court found that "the phrase `any city or town' means just that, and that any other municipality in the State of Arizona could challenge the annexation."

¶ 5 Globe argues that a fair reading of the statute suggests that the term "interested" modifies not only the term "other interested party" but also the term "any city or town," and, thus, the statute permits only interested cities or towns to challenge another municipality's annexation of property. It points out that the trial court's interpretation of the statute would allow a city "over 200 miles away" and with no interest in the annexation of certain property to challenge it. Because the record indicates that Miami is located in close proximity to both Globe and the property it proposes to annex, and that Miami is an interested party with respect to the annexation, we need not determine whether the statute allows a city or town geographically remote from the property to be annexed and with no interest in it to challenge the annexation.2 ¶ 6 The property to be annexed lies between Globe and Miami, terminating near Miami's eastern corporate limit. Given this geographical proximity, we presume Miami has a genuine interest in the proposed annexation by a neighboring municipality. See City of Tucson v. Woods, 191 Ariz. 523, 959 P.2d 394 (App.1997)

(holding Tucson had standing to challenge incorporation of neighboring Tortolita because Tucson had direct stake in demanding proper enforcement of statute protecting municipalities from potential problems arising from existence of many separate governmental entities in a limited geographical area). The record supports this presumption, belying Globe's argument here and to the trial court that Miami has no such interest.

¶ 7 Miami points out it provides sewer system service to property owners within the area to be annexed. Further, the record contains a letter sent by counsel for Globe to counsel for Miami within the context of this litigation, wherein counsel attempts to assuage Miami's concerns about the proposed annexation and confirms the common concerns and interests of the two municipalities. Specifically, Globe assured Miami that it would do whatever was necessary to address Miami's concerns about "sewer issues" as well as water usage, economic development, and other issues that would "affect all of the Globe-Miami area." Noting that they share area resources, Globe assured Miami it would attempt to conserve these resources. It also stated that, because both communities would benefit from Globe's expansion, as it would attract more tourist trade, both should share the financial burdens associated with such growth. Globe acknowledged that the annexation would directly and significantly impact Miami; it cannot now argue that Miami has no interest in it.

¶ 8 Having found that Miami is an interested party with respect to the annexation of the neighboring property and noting that standing is not a jurisdictional, but merely a prudential, requirement,3 we conclude that Miami has standing pursuant to § 9-471(C) to challenge the annexation procedure. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court's ruling in this regard, albeit for a different reason.

Compliance Standard

¶ 9 We now address whether there must be strict or substantial compliance with the contiguity requirement of § 9-471, a question of first impression in this state. The statute provides in relevant part as follows:

A. The following procedures are required to extend and increase the corporate limits of a city or town by annexation:
1. A city or town shall file in the office of the county recorder ... a blank petition... setting forth a description and an accurate map of all the exterior boundaries of the territory contiguous to the city or town proposed to be annexed....4
* * *
H. Territory is not contiguous for the purposes of subsection A, paragraph 1 of this section unless:
* * *
3. The distance from the existing boundary of the annexing city or town where it adjoins the annexed territory to the furthest point of the annexed territory from such boundary is no more than twice the width of the annexed territory.5

(Emphasis added.)

¶ 10 Globe argues that the trial court correctly found it was only required to substantially comply with the conditions enumerated in § 9-471(A), including the contiguity requirement, citing the following cases as support: Town of Scottsdale v. State ex rel. Pickrell, 98 Ariz. 382, 405 P.2d 871 (1965); State ex rel. Helm v. Town of Benson, 95 Ariz. 107, 387 P.2d 807 (1963); Moorehead v. Arnold, 130 Ariz. 503, 637 P.2d 305 (App. 1981); Glick v. Town of Gilbert, 123 Ariz. 395, 599 P.2d 848 (App.1979). We disagree, concluding that the requirement of contiguity must be strictly met, a finding that is not inconsistent with the authority Globe cites.

¶ 11 In Town of Scottsdale, our supreme court held that Scottsdale did not have jurisdiction to annex the area in question because, as the petition for annexation contained two "conditional" signatures, it had not complied with the condition that the petition be signed by the owners of one-half or more of the total assessed value of all the property to be annexed.6 First, the court characterized as an "indispensable condition precedent" the requirement that the petition must be signed by at least one-half of the eligible property owners. 98 Ariz. at 385, 405 P.2d at 873. It then stated that § 9-471 "does not require absolute and literal compliance for annexation, but substantial compliance is necessary to effectuate the purpose of the statute." 98 Ariz. at 384-85, 405 P.2d at 872-73. Nevertheless, noting that the "statute [did] not provide for a conditional petition being presented to the governing body of the city or town," 98 Ariz. at 385, 405 P.2d at...

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