Crothersville annexation public outreach meetings underway

CROTHERSVILLE — Three public outreach meetings down. Three to go.

Crothersville is going through the state-required process to inform affected property owners about the proposal to annex five areas into the town.

Letters were sent to 39 property owners to let them know about the meetings and share maps of the areas. Then they could pick a date and time that works best for their schedule to attend.

The remaining meetings are at 6 p.m. Monday and Tuesday and noon Wednesday at the town hall, 111 E. Howard St., Crothersville. They will be led by Brad Bender or T.J. Amick with FPBH Inc.

Written and visual information regarding the proposed boundaries, extension of services and fiscal impact are provided at each meeting. Each area also is enlarged on posterboards with parcels listed on the back at the town hall for people to view during business hours.

“This is not a town meeting. No town quorum or action can be taken,” Bender said during the first meeting Oct. 18. “We’ll do our best to take some notes and answer any questions.”

To be formally addressed in town records, Bender suggests residents share their thoughts in writing and send it to the town hall.

“We can include it as we do the work studying the plan,” he said.

Questions regarding property tax impact will be shared with Reuben Cummings with GFC LLC so he can do an analysis on the projected tax rates, Bender said. If the parcel is assessed as agricultural, he said the rate will not change unless the use changes.

Annexation is a process governed by state statute with a number of requirements, including contiguity of existing town boundaries and a provision of capital and noncapital services, Bender said.

Capital services include water, sanitary sewer and fire protection, while noncapital services include police protection and trash pickup. Bender said if the town later approves an annexation ordinance for each of the five areas, the town would have three years to provide capital services and one year to provide noncapital services.

Each area will be studied separately and include a fiscal plan.

“The final areas cannot expand beyond what we showed on the master plan,” Bender said, noting that plan was adopted by the town council in August. “They can retract some of the area and change it or they cannot consider it altogether, but they can’t expand the boundaries beyond what’s shown in those maps at this time without starting the process all over again.”

Once the town reaches the point of presenting the annexation ordinances, Bender said there are more required public hearings and certified mailings so residents will be in the loop on everything that’s going on.

“The public hearings will be town meetings where action can be taken,” he said.

Bender provided a breakdown for each area:A: 13.64 acres on U.S. 31 between south of Marshall Drive and north of Industrial Way, including nine parcels surrounded by town limits and five parcels with two common owners with a total assessed value of $580,500. It has all sewer and water utilities, which were installed on the west side of U.S. 31 in 2005. To satisfy annexation requirements, two parcels on the east side need to be connected because fire protection already is in place.

B: 161.97 acres south of the industrial park from the railroad to frontage on Bethany Road, including four parcels, two with common owners and two parcels owned by the railroad with an assessed value of $147,900. It will require sewer and water extensions and fire protection. The tax rate should not increase as long as it remains agricultural.

C: 183.94 acres north and south of County Road 600S from town limits near East Street to County Road 1150E where the town has a lift station, including 23 parcels and four with two common owners with an assessed value of $2,764,400. Utilities were installed in 2005, but sewer and water services need to be set out to eight parcels. Fire protection is in place. The roadway would become the town’s responsibility and formally be changed to Moore Street. The tax rate shouldn’t increase for four of the parcels as long as they remain agricultural.

D: 160.33 acres northeast of town limits with limited frontage on Moore Street, including one parcel with an assessed value of $181,400. Sewer service is needed. The tax rate shouldn’t increase as long as it stays agricultural.

E: 58.98 acres south of town from U.S. 31 to town limits, including two parcels and one common owner (Sims Bark). The frontage road would become the town’s responsibility from U.S. 31 to where it turns north. It doesn’t require any utility services or sewer extensions.

During the Oct. 18 meeting, a resident asked about the reason for annexation and if anyone had plans for the land.

Bender said annexation helps a community set up some orderly growth for development and opportunities and helps set a tax base, and residents also could vote in the town elections and even run for town council or clerk-treasurer.

As far as plans for the land, Bender said he isn’t aware of any. No one had petitioned or presented a request, but the town council has talked about annexation off and on in the past five years.

“These areas are all contiguous,” Bender said. “Actually, a couple of them are completely encircled by town limits. They are islands, if you will, and especially with an island, it becomes very confusing, and it only makes sense to include them in the town.”

Another resident asked what would cause an annexation ordinance to not go through. Bender said the council would have to adopt the ordinance before residents could have a private attorney file a remonstrance, which requires 50% signatures within an area or 65% of the assessed value.