The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Local Politics

August 9, 2013

Anderson files suit against Lapel over 'strip' annexation

City wants courts to invalidate blocking move

(Continued)

ANDERSON, Ind. —

Nevertheless, Parkison said he understands Smith's motivation for challenging Lapel's action.

"I think he truly believes in his heart he's doing what he thinks is best for the people of Anderson," Parkison said. "I hope he understands that's what we're doing, too."

Lapel's annexation cut a swath through a 17 square mile area Smith wanted to annex as part of Anderson Fast Forward, a plan he unveiled in February to stabilize the city's population and property tax base and create an economic development corridor by capturing unincorporated frontage along I-69 to the Madison/Hamilton County line.

The idea was to take advantage of the commercial, industrial and residential growth moving north along the interstate from Indianapolis, Fishers and Noblesville.

Opposition to the plan developed swiftly and was vocal. Confronted with an angry crowd of people from both Anderson and the Lapel and Pendleton areas, the Anderson City Council tabled the plan to gather more information and public comments. Criticism of the plan at public meetings in Lapel was equally scathing.

In mid-March the City Council rejected the plan. Smith tried to resurrect a slightly smaller version of the so-called southwest annexation, in June, but only two members of the council -- Anthony Bibbs, D-At Large, and Russ Willis, R-District 1 -- showed up for a special meeting and the effort failed for lack of a quorum.

In its lawsuit, the city claims that "Anderson is the only second class city in Madison County and the only municipality that can effectively manage the coordinated economic development opportunities," along the I-69 corridor.

"Anderson has an interest in this area for the future of not only Anderson, but also Madison County and the surrounding region," the lawsuit reads. "Lapel's unlawful annexation essentially acts as a barrier that blocks Anderson from reaching I-69 at that location and continuing the economic development and growth that Anderson has already initiated."

Smith said the lawsuit is focused on the next 50 years of economic growth and vitality of Anderson and Madison County.

"As we learned from the annexation effort that Anderson undertook in 1957, had we not stretched to the south, Anderson today would not have any interstate presence," Smith said.

No hearing date has yet been set for the case.

Like Stu Hirsch on facebook and follow him @stuhirsch on Twitter, or call 640-4861.

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