Anderson's inability to annex land to the southwest of current city limits and absorb key property along Interstate 69 is a classic example of the failure of local politics.
Is it Mayor Kevin Smith's fault? Is it city council President David Eick's fault?
Yes and yes.
They're both smart men, and they both claim to have the best interests of the city at heart. But they have failed to work together to make an annexation happen.
Last winter, Smith went public with his Anderson Fast Forward plan to annex acreage to the southwest and northeast of the city. The proposed northeast annexation would have absorbed about four square miles in Union and Richland townships and added 2,900 to Anderson’s population, including 1,163 homes, five businesses and 25 miles of road to the city.
The southwest annexation would have encompassed 17 square miles and extended Anderson’s city limits to the Hamilton County line, positioning it to take advantage of the commercial, industrial and residential growth moving north from Indianapolis, Fishers and Noblesville.
But when the annexation proposals went before the city council, one failed by a 7-2 vote and the other by a 6-3 margin. Eicks voted against both but said he had an alternative annexation plan that would serve the city better while arousing less opposition. He suggested a much smaller “strip” annexation from County Road 700 South to the county line as a way of capturing the economic development potential of I-69, and use tax increment financing for roads and other infrastructure.
Fast forward (pardon the expression) to June 20, and the disconnect between Eicks, a Democrat, and Smith, a Republican, blunted another annexation attempt. Smith, striving to challenge a strip annexation attempt by Lapel-area farmers designed to thwart Anderson's potential designs on Lapel-area land, called for another city council meeting to consider a revised Anderson southwest annexation plan.