Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

February 18, 2013

Landowners file petition against annexation

Kokomo proposes growth to new U.S. 31

By Ken de la Bastide
Tribune enterprise editor

— Landowners opposed to the city of Kokomo’s latest planned annexation are taking their fight to court to stop becoming a part of the city.

Attorney Tonny Storey confirmed Monday that he sent by certified mail Friday a petition remonstrating against the proposed southeastern annexation.

The petition was filed within the 90 day deadline for the filing of the remonstrance. The city published notice of passage of the annexation ordinance on Nov. 29.

Landowners in the proposed annexation area contend the southeastern annexation shouldn’t take place because: Police, fire, street and road maintenance are adequately furnished in the southeastern annexation by a provider other than Kokomo; the annexation will have a significant financial impact on landowners; and the annexation is not in the best interest of landowners.

Kokomo officials could not be reached for comment because of the President’s Day holiday.

To file the remonstrance those in opposition to the annexation have to secure the signatures of 65 percent of the property owners in the area or 75 percent of the assessed value.

Mick Owens, a leader of the opposition, said the group has the signatures of 85 percent of the property owners and 80 percent of the assessed value.

“The higher the percentage the better our chances of winning,” he said.

Owens said the two biggest concerns of property owners was property taxes and being able to live in the county.

City officials want to add almost another 4,000 acres to the newly expanded city, by annexing land around the new U.S. 31 bypass.

The new annexation push would take in all of the land around three major interchanges -- at Markland Avenue, at Boulevard (100 South) and at Ind. 26.

It would also add another 1,267 residents to the city, including those living in the unincorporated area of Oakford.

“We need to be proactive in annexing out to the new U.S. 31,” Goodnight told the council last year in discussing the annexation. “That’s a potential investment out there, and we don’t want anyone to make any type of development that could be detrimental to investments already on the current U.S. 31.”

According to the plans released by the city, property tax rates would nearly double for residents living in the annexation area, although property tax caps could mitigate some of the impact.

For those being annexed, the Center Township rate would go from $1.54 per $100 of assessed valuation to $2.98. Other townships would see the following increases:

• Harrison Township — $1.87 to $3.33

• Taylor Township — $1.91 to $3.36

• Howard Township — $1.47 to $2.96

At the time, the city council passed the annexation ordinance, attorneys for Kokomo and the opposition group indicated there could be discussions in an attempt to resolve the issues between the two sides.

Owens said there were no official meetings between the two sides. He said there were some informal talks with the city.

Twice before Kokomo has reached a settlement agreements with groups opposed to annexation starting in 2009.

Kokomo agreed to “grandfather” septic systems and farms with livestock in the east side annexation area and the promise to extend city sewers within a certain time frame to neighborhoods making formal requests.

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