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Controversial Bloomington annexation plan up for vote

Proposal in the works since 2017 stirs debate
Posted at 4:00 PM, Sep 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-15 16:00:40-04

BLOOMINGTON — The Bloomington City Council is set to review and vote Wednesday night on a proposed annexation plan in the works since 2017.

The latest proposal would have the city annexing 8,153 acres, which after several changes, is less than the original plan of 9,255 acres involving more than 14,000 people.

"It is all of our best interest whether we live on this side of the city limit or other that Bloomington succeeds and in order to do so and continue to deliver municipal services and urbanized services to urbanized areas, we need to make sure the city limits are the right size," Yael Ksander, communications director for the Office of the Mayor, said.

She added, "These folks living in the areas to be annexed, proposed to be annexed, for annexation are already part of the Bloomington family. These are not rural areas. These are places that are already enjoying and for the most part people enjoying the benefits that Bloomington conveys. As soon as they leave, their neighborhoods they are driving on Bloomington roads. They are enjoying the economic, vitality of the Bloomington job market and employment destination and all the cultural benefits that Bloomington has to offer."

In 1996, Dawn Jacquard's home was brought into the Bloomington city limits with the anticipation of upgraded services.

"We were going to get sewers, we were going to get lights, we were going to get sidewalks. What we got was higher taxes, nothing less, " Jacquard said.

Her neighborhood never got sewers because the majority of the homeowners at the time rejected the installation price tag of up to $9,000 per home.

Jacquard's neighborhood is not alone.

Monroe County Commissioner Penny Githens points to other areas annexed during other city administrations that are still awaiting city services.

"Part of what the city says it will do in sidewalks, street lights, we would like for them to provide those areas they have already annexed to show people in the proposed areas how things can be better, so far nobody is convinced that those things will happen," Githens said.

She added, "It's about what people want. People bought their homes in their locations which were not part of the city. They didn't want to be in the city."

Bart Farrell lives on Heritage Woods Road.

The retired Navy Lt. Colonel shared his love for Bloomington, but his opposition to annexation.

"I am not against progress at all as I previously said there are neighborhoods where this is appropriate, our neighborhood, and others like mine are not. If were to add street lights, and sidewalks to our neighborhood you would ruin the character of the neighborhood and what makes it so special," Farrell said.

The city estimates that on average property tax bills in the annexed areas may go up $680.

The amount might be higher depending on the value of the home.

Colby Wicker is with the group County Residents Against Annexation.

"That's a lot of money for a lot of people. They are older individuals on a fixed income," Wicker said.

It's been 17 years since Bloomington expanded its borders.

2004 was the last time homeowners either praised or panned an annexation plan.

The annexation plan has met major resistance.

In 2020, the state Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional a law the legislature passed to stop the Bloomington annexation.

The mayor's spokesperson put the court ruling in perspective as the city sees annexation vital to the survival and the economic vitality of the region.

"It was a long process. It took four years for us to get determination from the Indiana Supreme Court that in fact, it was unconstitutional action on the part of the statehouse, but it has shown us we need to absolutely ascert municipal control where we know what as a city government what is best for our city," Ksander said.

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