A hearing on whether Havre’s annexation of 100 properties last year will go forward has been moved to another city.
Judge E. Wayne Phillips of Lewistown — the third judge presiding over the case — moved a Friday, Sept. 3, hearing from Havre to Lewistown after he discovered the courtroom in the Hill County Courthouse would not be available for the 10:30 a.m. hearing.
The hearing is to determine whether a request for an injunction preventing the annexation from proceeding until the lawsuit is resolved will be granted and to determine the nature of the class lawsuit — who among those annexed would be able to join the suit.
The suit was filed by property owners, including the companies that own the Holiday Village Mall and the Border Patrol Station on 16th Ave. W. The plaintiffs said in the suit that Havre did not follow state law while annexing the property.
The suit asks the judge to declare the annexation void until Havre completes the requirements of state law and asks that property owners the suit contends were double billed as a result of the annexation be reimbursed. It also asks the court to award the plaintiffs attorney fees and the cost of filing the suit as well as any other money the court deems appropriate.
The suit requested the injunction to prevent any further action on the annexation, and requested that Hill County, also named as a defendant in the suit, be ordered to stop complying with the annexation until the suit is resolved.
The county agreed to the request that it stop negotiating with Havre on the annexation until further instructed by the court, and in its reply to the complaint asked the judge to declare whether the annexation was done legally and what the city’s and county’s obligations are in the matter, as well as any “further relief as the Court deems just and equitable.”
Phillips has ordered the parties to attempt mediation on the issue, which is ongoing. He ordered that the settlement negotiations be completed by Dec. 3.
If mediation is unsuccessful, the lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial May 18.