Legislature needs to offer more tools to help citizens fight annexation
As forced annexations become increasingly common in Indiana, rural residents who don’t want their land annexed by a city or town have only a couple of real options, according to Indiana Farm Bureau tax and local government specialist Katrina Hall.
They can try to stop the annexation before it’s approved by the town or city council. But if that doesn’t work, they can fight it in court.
“We need other options,” Hall said. “We need legislative relief because it’s just too hard, too time consuming and too expensive for ordinary citizens to fight off a forced annexation. They’re up against the resources of the municipality.”
Farm Bureau has been notified of 20 annexations in progress in Indiana, Hall said, but she added that there are probably others that she hasn’t heard about yet.
(Members are welcome to contact Hall to let her know of annexations in their area, 317-692-7805, email@example.com.)
In Fortville, the town council originally attempted to annex 6,000 acres and 383 parcels – an area much larger than the existing town. According to The Greenfield Daily Reporter, the proposal was scaled back to 644 acres and 97 parcels before being adopted.
The group that organized against the annexation, Fight Against Forced Annexation (www.supportfafa.com), remains opposed, however, and is taking its case to court. The Indiana Ag Law Foundation is supporting the opposition’s court battle. Its first court date, Hall said, is July 21 – more than a year after the effort began, she noted.
“You have to organize and stay organized to fight a forced annexation off,” she explained.
In Huntington, Huntington Citizens Against Forced Annexation has an even more complicated plan to combat. The city council has proposed an eight-year, five-phase annexation plan that will add 3,000 acres of land to the city.
Huntington Citizens Against Forced Annexation (which can be found on Facebook under the name HuntingtonAnnexation) is trying to stop the annexation before it is adopted by the council, Hall said – something Fortville was unsuccessful with.
“In addition to the support of Huntington County Farm Bureau, they’ve enlisted the backing from city residents,” Hall said. “Their message of ‘Forced Annexation Is Bad for Everyone’ can be seen all over the city.”
As of The Hoosier Farmer’s July 7 deadline, the Huntington City Council was to decide about moving forward with the first phase on July 8.