Indiana Daily Student

City of Bloomington says lawsuit did not collect enough signatures to oppose annexation

<p>Proposed annexation areas are seen on a map. A lawsuit filed by County Residents Against Annexation failed to file enough remonstrance petitions to prevent the annexation process from continuing. The dark green is section 1a, the light green is 1b, the orange is 2, the pink is 3, the red is 4 and the yellow is 5. </p>

Proposed annexation areas are seen on a map. A lawsuit filed by County Residents Against Annexation failed to file enough remonstrance petitions to prevent the annexation process from continuing. The dark green is section 1a, the light green is 1b, the orange is 2, the pink is 3, the red is 4 and the yellow is 5.

A lawsuit filed by County Residents Against Annexation failed to file enough remonstrance petitions to prevent the annexation process from continuing, according to a case file response from the City of Bloomington released on May 5.  

County Residents Against Annexation is a local group of residents in Monroe County petitioning the City of Bloomington’s annexation plans. 

The City of Bloomington said they’ve recognized that the city boundaries haven’t changed in 20 years, even with substantial population growth. Mayor John Hamilton said annexation plans, which began in 2017, were meant to represent the growing city better, according to an article by The Herald-Times

Residents have expressed opposition to the plans because of population density requirements and the city’s inability to meet public hearing requirements, according to the article. Additionally, residents in the annexed areas would see an average $513 increase in property taxes yearly, according to a consultant hired by the city. 

There was a 90-day remonstrance period for local property owners to file petitions against expansion attempts earlier this year. The Herald-Times said only two areas — one on the city’s west, and one on the city’s southwest side — filed enough petitions to oppose the annexation in court. 

According to the case file, the City of Bloomington said Monroe County Auditor Catherine Smith counted petitions with ineligible signatures and others that failed to be notarized, delivered or processed on time. 

Another issue with the petitions, according to the city, is the fact that the auditor counted petitions from residents with remonstrance waivers. People outside of Bloomington can sign such waivers in exchange for water and/or sewer services and therefore aren’t allowed to file petitions to stop these city plans. 

Smith said in the article that she followed a 2019 law that only invalidated waivers older than fifteen years. Margaret Clements, the president of County Residents Against Annexation, expressed her support for Smith in the article. 

The city responded in the article saying the law “violates the state and federal constitutions.” It said in the article that the 2019 law shouldn’t be applied to the annexation because the efforts started in 2017 and were delayed by “an unconstitutional action of the state Legislature.”

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