ANDERSON — A last-ditch effort to give Anderson a seat at the annexation table along Interstate 69 south to the Lapel exit has disintegrated.
Anderson Mayor Kevin Smith said his administration is abandoning plans to bring 17 square miles of rural land into the city limits. He blamed politics but two other municipalities — Ingalls and Pendleton — have made inroads to annex the land.
Last February, Smith proposed two annexations — a four-square-mile area northeast of city limits and the second reaching southwest to include frontage along Interstate 69 to the Hamilton County line.
Those efforts failed when the Anderson City Council defeated two financial plans for the proposed annexations that were dubbed “Anderson Fast Forward.”
Since then the towns of Ingalls and Pendleton have both conducted public hearings to annex the area along the interstate. Also, the town of Lapel is moving forward with plans to annex south to County Road 700 South.
Anderson's annexation efforts became embroiled in local politics. Democrats on the city council were concerned the annexation would add Republican voters into the city limits, particularly with the proposed northeast annexation.
“Voting numbers were not our focus,” Smith said. “Council members put politics and their election future over the future of the city.”
Smith confirmed there were discussions with Democratic council members about annexing an unspecified area into the city that would lean Democrat to balance the political scales.
“I told the council last year the person blamed the most for any annexation would be the mayor and not the council,” he said. “I’m not concerned about my political future, but the future of Anderson 50 years from now.”
Smith said his goal with the plan was to secure Anderson’s future.
Councilman David Eicks, president of the council in 2013, said he believes the mayor is trying to make the discussion political. He said the mayor can call a special meeting at any time, but has to determine if a majority of council members are available.