|Legal Opinion: |
Text of Document: October 14, 1997
This letter is in response to our conversation of this morning regarding the municipality's desire to repeal an earlier annexation ordinance which became final through the dismissal of a quo warranto lawsuit. I am enclosing a sample ordinance for your convenience, since it is my view that only another ordinance is legally effective to repeal your existing annexation ordinance.
Tennessee Code Annotated § 6-51-106 provides that any annexation proceeding may be abandoned at any time by resolution of the governing body. However, the Tennessee Supreme Court has held that this statute "is applicable only in situations where the annexing municipality has 'initiated' annexation proceedings but has not yet passed an annexation ordinance." City of Bluff City v. Morrell, 764 S.W.2d 200 (Tenn. 1988) [emphasis supplied]. In Bluff City, the city adopted an annexation ordinance which was challenged by residents in a quo warranto proceeding. The city council subsequently passed a motion "to kill the annexation suit" and instructed the city attorney to enter into an agreed order dismissing the suit. Almost five years later, the city claimed that its motion to repeal the annexation ordinance was invalid and therefore, the territory described in the ordinance legally became a part of the boundaries of Bluff City when the order was entered dismissing the suit. The chancellor and the Court of Appeals agreed and upheld the original annexation ordinance. On appeal to the Supreme Court, that Court agreed with the lower courts' rulings that an annexation ordinance may not be abolished by a motion of the council. The Court went on to state that an annexation ordinance validly passed but not yet operative because of a pending quo warranto proceeding can be repealed when the legislative body acts with "equal dignity and in full compliance with procedures required for passing a valid ordinance." In your present situation, I believe the best solution is to pass an ordinance, not just a resolution.
In summary, the city may adopt an ordinance repealing its previous annexation ordinance.
Very truly yours,
Pamela M.M. Bingham
MTAS Legal Consultant