IRRIGATION AND DRAINAGE — WATER RIGHTS AND RECLAMATION
42-2982. Consolidation of Districts. (1) If the boards of commissioners of any two (2) or more drainage districts formed under this chapter deem it in the best interest of their respective districts that they be consolidated into a single district, and if said districts are contiguous or lie at least in part within the same county, such boards may petition the district court of the county in which a greater portion of the lands of said proposed district are located for an order consolidating the same districts. For purposes of this section, districts may be considered to be contiguous even though they are separated by a body of water or other natural barrier so long as they are located in close proximity to each other. The petition shall be a joint petition signed by a majority of the commissioners of each respective board and attested to by the secretary of each board. The petition shall set forth a description of the lands and boundaries for the respective districts, a description of the proposed consolidated district and any facts showing that the consolidation is in the best interests of said districts. The petition shall also set forth and report the total outstanding obligation bonds of each consolidating district, the total value of the assets held by each consolidating district, the total levy assessed in each consolidating district in its most recent fiscal year, and the projected total levy to be assessed for the next complete fiscal year in the proposed newly consolidated district.
(2) Evidence showing that the proposed consolidation is in the best interests of the districts may include, but is not limited to: that which shows that the proposed system of drainage will be conducive to providing the same benefits previously apportioned to the lands within the respective districts, enhance the functioning of the respective districts, the public health, convenience and welfare, or increase the public revenue, or that the consolidation of said districts and the said system of drainage and reclamation is a proper and an advantageous method of accomplishing the relief sought.
(3) Upon receiving a petition brought under this section, the district court shall fix a time and place for the hearing of the petition, and the time and manner of filing any objections to the petition. Said hearing shall be held no sooner than sixty (60) days and no later than one hundred twenty (120) days after the first publication of notice of hearing. The clerk of the court shall cause publication of such order in three (3) consecutive weekly issues in a newspaper of general circulation within each county in which any of the lands within the said proposed consolidated district are located; together with a notice of the time and place at which the district court will consider said petition for consolidation. The petitioners shall pay all costs of publication.
(4) Any person objecting to a petition for consolidation as described in this section shall provide for filing of written objection with the court. Only landowners within the proposed consolidated district, owners of land over which the drainage water from the proposed district would flow, and landowners served by any of the respective districts included in the petition shall have standing to file an objection to said petition. Written objections must be filed and served upon petitioners no later than twenty-one (21) days prior to the date of the hearing. The form of the objection shall be as provided in the Idaho rules of civil procedure. Each objection shall identify the name of the landowner entering the objection along with the objecting party’s address, location of the landowner’s land by township, range and section; identify the district or districts in which those lands lie; and state the nature or description of objection and basis or reasoning for the objection. Objections shall be limited to determining whether or not the proposed consolidation is in the best interests of the districts.
(5) The judge of the court shall, at the hearing herein provided, hear and consider argument from the petitioners and decide whether the proposed consolidation is in the best interests of said districts. The court shall then consider evidence in objection only from landowners who have filed a written objection as described in subsection (4) of this section, and only such evidence as may be presented for or against the petition or objections thereto. The landowners who have filed written objections shall bear the burden of proving that the consolidation is not in the best interests of the districts. After any evidence offered in opposition to the petition, the petitioners may offer evidence regarding the consolidation or in opposition to any objections entered. Based on the agreement in the petition to consolidate by the boards of the respective districts, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the proposed consolidation of the districts is in the best interests of the petitioning districts and the landowners therein, unless the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the proposed consolidation is not in the best interests of the districts. Consolidation shall not be permitted to either exclude from the consolidated district lands that are within the petitioning districts or to include lands within the consolidated district that are not within the petitioning districts. The court shall make its determination wholly in the affirmative or negative whether said petitioning districts shall be consolidated.
(6) If the petition is granted, the court shall cause an order to be entered and recorded in the judgment record of each of the counties in which the lands within the consolidated district are situated, setting forth the facts found upon the hearing of said petition, and said order shall define the boundaries of said district and describe the lands included therein by township, range and section only. The clerk of said district court shall cause a copy of the order declaring said consolidated district, duly certified, to be filed in the office of the secretary of state. From the date of said filing and thereafter, said district consolidation shall be deemed complete.
(7) The court shall name the commissioners appointed by it for the consolidated district pursuant to the provisions of section 42-2910, Idaho Code. In appointing commissioners to the newly consolidated district, the court shall consider preference to appointment of at least one (1) commissioner from each of the districts petitioning for consolidation. The consolidated district shall be known and described by the name and number of the largest district of those consolidated.
(8) The provisions of this section shall apply exclusively to the consolidation of drainage districts which have been formed under this chapter.
[42-2982, added 2011, ch. 256, sec. 1, p. 701.]