By Stuart Hirsch
The Herald Bulletin
PENDLETON, Ind. —
An effort to block Pendleton from annexing 800 acres south of Old State Road 132 has failed.
Madison Circuit Court Judge Angela Warner Sims dismissed a remonstrance filed in the case by Warren Huntzinger and some other affected property owners because they failed to obtain the required number of signatures to support their claim.
Sims determined that the landowner who opposed the annexation lacked standing to challenge the quality and adequacy of Pendleton’s fiscal plan filed in support of the annexation plan.
Pendleton Town Council President Donald Henderson said the goal of the annexation approved in 2011 was to square off the town’s boundaries and eliminate questions about where the town limits were.
The property is located south of old Indiana 132 and east of County Road 700 West. The acreage was surrounded on three sides by Pendleton, but was still part of unincorporated Madison County.
The property was split between 22 rural property owners. Henderson said there were no immediate plans to develop the property, but that could happen someday. The annexation is an attempt to be ready for it.
“This was done to square off boundaries with the existing annexation,” Henderson said. “It’s zoned agricultural and it will stay agricultural into the foreseeable future. It was just a pretty straightforward annexation from our standpoint.”
Ronald Fowler, an Anderson lawyer who represented the Huntzingers, conceded his client didn’t have the required number of signatures — they fell one short, he said.
“This farmland is of no value to the town and their plans are pretty shallow,” Fowler said. “Basically their position is if somebody comes along and wants to build something, we’ll be ready.”
Fowler said he might look at the issue again three years from now, after the time limit for Pendleton to begin providing town services has passed. If services have not been provided by then, his clients could file a lawsuit then.
The final ruling on Pendleton’s annexation comes at a time when Anderson Mayor Kevin Smith has proposed two large annexations that would increase the size of the city by an estimated 50 percent.
A public meeting last week about the proposed southwest annexation drew between 400 and 500 people, most of them opposed to what they see as a land grab, to the Trinity Life Center for a discussion of the proposal.
A public meeting on the so-called northeast annexation is scheduled for later this month.
Meanwhile, 10 Lapel area landowners have banded together to block the city’s plans. They filed a super-voluntary annexation that would extend Lapel’s town boundaries to Pendleton.
In addition, the Anderson City Council on Thursday is scheduled to take up Smith’s annexation proposals.
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