DEAN R. LINDFLOTT, SHIRLEY M. LINDFLOTT, RICHARD A. LINDFLOTT, and ROBERT D. LINDFLOTT, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
DRAINAGE DISTRICT NO. 23, WORTH COUNTY, IOWA, and WORTH COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, Defendants-Appellees.
from the Iowa District Court for Worth County, Christopher C.
appeal the district court decision affirming annexation of
their land into a drainage district.
L. Pray and Benjamin R. Merrill of Brown, Winick, Graves,
Gross, Baskerville, & Schoenebaum, P.L.C., Des Moines,
W. Goodwin of Goodwin Law Office, P.C., Ames, for appellee.
by Vogel, P.J., and Tabor and Bower, JJ.
Lindflotts appeal the district court's decision affirming
annexation of their land into a drainage district. We find
the Lindflott land receives a material benefit from the
drainage district, and accordingly the annexation of the land
was proper. We affirm the district court.
Background Facts and Proceedings
District Number 23, Worth County, Iowa (District 23), was
created in 1916 and drains roughly 7800 acres. The portion of
the Lindflotts' property at issue was not included in any
drainage district, although it does border five different
districts. A meandering natural stream (the Stream) flowed
north to south through the Lindflotts' property, entering
the property through Drainage District Number 7 (District 7)
and discharging into District 23. In 1916, a plan was
prepared for straightening and excavating 6.8 miles of the
Stream to increase drainage, and work was completed on a 5.2
mile section. In the 1950's the work was continued by
private landowners and the excavation ended near the south
edge of the Lindflott property. In 1957, District 7 excavated
and straightened the Stream north of the Lindflott property,
increasing the flow of water into the unimproved portion of
the Stream on the Lindflott property.
Lindflotts bought the property at issue in 1974. In 1975,
they had the portion of the Stream on their land straightened
and deepened to enable row crops to be more efficiently
planted. The Stream now entered the Lindflott property from
District 7, flowed as a straight, open ditch through the
property instead of as a shallow meandering stream, and
exited into District 23. The portion of the Stream on the
Lindflott property matched the depth of the excavated ditch
of District 23
October 2013, Dean Lindflott petitioned the Worth County
Board of Supervisors (Board) for repairs to a ditch near his
property in Worth County, Iowa. There was some confusion as
to exactly which ditch was to be repaired. Dean claims he
intended to have a ditch beginning on the western edge of the
property, an area covered by Drainage District Number 8
(District 8), cleaned, but a clerk in the auditor's
office erroneously identified the district as District 23
instead. The Board appointed Bolton & Menk, Inc., an
engineering firm, to investigate the proposed repairs. The
investigation was completed and a report presented to the
Board on May 9, 2014, with an amendment filed May 28. During
the survey, the engineer was unaware the Lindflott property
was not in any drainage district. Only after filing the
report was the error discovered and the amendment filed
describing the benefits imparted to the Lindflott land. The
amended report recommended annexing the Lindflotts'
property between District 8 and District 23. The Lindflotts
resisted the annexation claiming, in part, their land
received no material benefit from the drainage district.
Board approved the motion to annex the Lindflotts'
property. The Lindflotts appealed to the district court. A
trial was held and the district court affirmed the annexation
on August 22, 2016. The Lindflotts now appeal.
Standard of Review
tried in equity are reviewed de novo. Commercial Sav.
Bank v. Hawkeye Fed. Sav. Bank, 592 N.W.2d 321, 326
(Iowa 1999). The district court reviews the Board's
decision in equity, in an appellate capacity, and therefore,
the district court's review was also de novo. Iowa R.
App. P. 6.907. We give weight to the ...