INGALLS, Ind. — The town of Ingalls is seeking to annex more than 700 acres of land in Madison County north of Interstate-69, including the Pilot Travel Center off exit 214.
The town announced Thursday that it will conduct a public hearing on the annexation at 7 p.m. Feb. 24 at Ingalls Town Hall, 247 N. Meridian St.
The area being considered for annexation spans, north to south, from I-69 to Madison County Road 700 South, and, east to west, from County Road 1000 West to County Road 800 West.
Ingalls Town Council member Tim Green said the council was contacted by a Pilot representative who expressed interest in getting a water line run out to the Pilot facilities at exit 214. Ingalls is the closest town to the station. The town boundary stops on the south side of I-69. The Pilot station lies on the north side of the interstate, in an unincorporated area.
Because of the Christmas holiday, Pilot officials could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Green said Ingalls wouldn't run a water line to the other side of the highway unless the land belonged to the town. The proposed annexation area has been eyed by a couple of other municipalities interested in capitalizing on the prime real estate along the interstate.
Anderson Mayor Kevin Smith floated the idea of annexing part of the area this year, but his proposal was shot down by Anderson's city council. Recently, a group of homeowners in the area asked Lapel to annex about 11 square miles south to the highway. The legality of a previous "strip" annexation attempt in the area by Lapel has been challenged by the Smith administration.
Lapel Town Council President Gary Shuck said council is waiting on a feasibility study before the council makes a decision about whether to pursue the annexation farther.
Ingalls officials realize that the area will eventually be incorporated, which is why town officials don't want to establish water service in the area without annexing the land.
"There's been a lot of interest in that area," Green said. "We don't want to run a water line out there and then have someone else annex the land. Our stance has been we want you in our town if we're giving you water."
Ingalls has been in talks with the town's water department for the past 3 or 4 months about the cost to run a water line to the other side of the highway, Green said. The most recent cost estimate was $240,000.
He said negotiations are going on among Ingalls and the companies in the proposed area, including Pilot and Newco Metals, about how much of the water infrastructure cost the businesses would pay. Green said nothing final has been decided, but he stressed that town council does not want the burden of paying for added pipe to fall to taxpayers.
After the Feb. 24 public hearing, according to Green, Ingalls will have 60 days to finalize annexation plans. What council members decide could hinge on feedback they receive at the public hearing.
Green said Ingalls officials have not discussed the annexation with representatives of other towns or cities.
"We know Lapel is thinking about it (annexation south), which is why we decided to only go north to 700," Green said. "That gave us what we needed."
Follow Zach Osowski on Twitter @Osowski_THB, or call 640-4847.