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February 27, 2013

Logansport quickens annexation plans

The city is speeding up its annexation plans after a bill going through the Indiana General Assembly threatens to reduce how much cities can expand.

Mike Shaver, president of Wabash Scientific, Inc., the city’s consultant on the annexation project, said there is currently a bill going through the assembly that states cities wouldn’t be allowed to annex land valued at more than 15 percent of the city’s assessed value per year. If approved, the law would take effect June 30.

Based on conversations with his contacts in the state House of Representatives, Shaver said it was likely it would pass.

“What that basically means is, if you have a proposal for a shopping center or an apartment complex or something like that that comes along in the unincorporated area on the edges of town, if you don’t get it annexed before it starts getting built, then there’s a good chance you won’t be able to annex it,” Shaver said. “It’s caused things to be a little bit on a fast track.”

Mayor Ted Franklin said the current assessed value of the city is about $358 million, 15 percent of which is around $51 million.

Franklin said the areas the city is planning to annex are on the south side of town. The border between Clinton and Washington Townships would serve as the western boundary of the annexation, going south to 400 South, then east to 50 East. The boundary would then go north to 300 South, boxing in the Logansport Municipal Airport and industrial park, then span east to 325 East before squaring back off at the city.

There is one area within the proposed annexation that would be “carved out,” Franklin said, which includes the homes between Stoney Pike Road and South River Road. He said the cost to refurbish the area’s water and sewer lines would likely exceed the costs of the homes themselves.

The annexation would place the Hoosier Heartland Highway within city limits, which Shaver said would have a positive impact on future development.

“The primary purpose is to get the Heartland corridor into the city because that has an extraordinary chance of being a place where people will want to locate developments,” Shaver said. “If you have a major development and you can’t annex it because it’s more than 15 percent, then we’re trying to get you ahead of that process... We would be moving this through much more slowly if this wasn’t hanging over our heads.”

Franklin agreed.

“We have to do it now or else we jeopardize being able to annex later because when we hit that 15 percent plateau, we can only increase by $51 million,” Franklin said.

Shaver said his next goal is to finish a statistical plan that will explain how residents in the proposed annexed areas will be affected. The plan will include expectations regarding the impact of taxes, trash collection, utilities services and fire and police protection. He also said it wouldn’t be required for residents within annexation areas who aren’t currently connected to the city’s utilities to do so.

As of now, the tentative schedule for Logansport City Council is to vote to adopt the fiscal plan prepared by Wabash Scientific at its March 4 meeting. There will be a public hearing on the issue May 20, with a vote for final adoption of annexation June 24.

Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or mitchell.kirk@pharostribune.com.

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