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Bill that would restrict annexation fails to get hearing in committee

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Bill that would restrict annexation fails to get hearing in committee


April 17, 2013 edition

By Maribeth Vaughn


FORTVILLE — A bill that would restrict how much land a community can annex has died in the Legislature, though its language may be revived in the final two weeks of the Indiana General Assembly.

Fortville officials cited Senate Bill 376 as a reason they chose recently to move quickly on a what they call the Western Boundary Annexation, an ambitious plan to expand the town’s western boundary by nine square miles. The bill would limit the ability of the towns to annex such large areas of land by not allowing their assessed value to increase by more than 15 percent in one year.

Fortville’s Western Boundary Annexation would exceed that. Last month, town officials said the bill was one reason they were rolling out the plan and setting the approval process in motion.

But the bill failed to get a hearing in committee last week. Since the deadline has passed for bills to be heard on third reading, it will not be approved this session.

But that doesn’t mean the issue is entirely dead. Rep. Bob Cherry, R-Greenfield, was a co-sponsor of the bill and said its language may be inserted into another bill regarding annexations.

Cherry said he doesn’t know why the bill was not heard in House committee. The bill’s author, Sen. Jim Buck, R-Kokomo, did not return multiple phone calls seeking comment.

Evan Eikenberry, Buck’s press secretary, said Buck will review the legislation and determine whether it has a chance of being revived by inserting it into another bill he wrote regarding annexations.

The new restrictions would have gone into effect June 30. Fortville attorney Alex Intermill said the town council released its plans two weeks early in order to get the public approval process in motion to hold the final vote before June 30.

“This annexation has grown out of several months, if not years, of looking at the development and the growth and vision for the community that the town council has (for Fortville),” Intermill said last week.

If the bill fails entirely, Intermill said that means the town council is not on such a strict timeline.

The council will hold a public hearing on the annexation May 29, and by state law has 30 to 60 days to approve it. After that, a public remonstrance may be filed within 90 days.

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