PENDLETON — If Paige Dooley had a choice, she would rather not be annexed into a town. She would rather continue to enjoy the country lifestyle in the southwestern corner of Madison County.
But it looks like she might not have a choice either way.
The area of land surrounding Exit 214 and Interstate 69 has been coveted for a long time and has recently had four local entities trying to stake a claim to it.
The Dooley property is directly in the middle of area currently being annexed by Pendleton and Ingalls. Dooley said she hopes she and others get a say in where they go.
Anderson started the land rush early in 2013 when Mayor Kevin Smith announced his proposal to annex territory southwest of Anderson. That movement was eventually killed by the city council, but it soon became apparent how valuable owning land right off an I-69 exit could be.
Fearing an annexation into Anderson, some locals tried to annex into Lapel via a super-voluntary annexation. Ten homeowners signed a petition to speed up the process. But a specially appointed Hamilton County judge recently ruled the annexation illegal because it did not comply with Indiana's annexation laws.
Before the ruling, Lapel had discussed annexing almost 12 square miles south to the interstate, but has not yet formally read an ordinance. The town has been waiting months for a feasibility study to be completed by Pat Callahan. The town is hoping to see what the cost of incorporating all the land would be before moving forward.
Ingalls also decided to stake a claim in that area. The town is looking to reach north over I-69 up to 700 South. Just recently, Pendleton became the fourth town in the race when it also announced interest in the land.
Because annexation is awarded based on which entity files first, the Lapel Town Council decided at a recent meeting not to annex as far south as I-69, instead stopping at 700 South. The council felt it was too far behind Ingalls in the annexation process to try and challenge for the land.