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  • Local government, established by state law, is generally designed for urbanized and urbanizing areas to be parts of cities and towns, and for more rural or agricultural areas, less densely populated or intensively developed, to be outside municipalities and overseen by county and township governments.
  • Bloomington in our 199-year history has had hundreds of annexations, regularly, but for past 14 years we basically stopped, while population growth and urbanization continued (in past generation we went from 15% of urbanized area not in the city to 27% not in city).

  • During same periods of development, as sewer services were extended beyond city boundaries, property owners or developers were typically required to agree to join the city in exchange for tying into CBU’s services. So thousands of property owners have already legally agreed to be part of the city, especially in the South - West area (#1) and the South-East area (#2).

  • There also are 3 islands of unincorporated neighborhoods on the west side that are surrounded by city and its services, but not part of the city (areas #3, 4 and 5)

  • Being part of the city brings: consistent planning for growth and development, enhanced public safety services (fire and police), more intensive infrastructure investment and maintenance (roads, sidewalks), parks property and programming, sanitation (weekly waste and recycling pick-up), access to Bloomington Transit, rental unit inspections, as well as ‘softer’ services such as economic, sustainability and arts development, as well as potentially the city-wide fiber broadband infrastructure being pursued.

  • Annexation also brings political rights to vote and participate directly in determining Bloomington’s future.

  • Annexation is a detailed, formal process, which has only just begun. The months ahead will include public dialogue, both formal and informal, detailed analysis and evaluation of service and fiscal impacts to individuals and other governmental jurisdictions, an eventual vote by city council, and then opportunities to object, by those property owners who haven’t already agreed to being annexed.

  • Bloomington and Monroe County and our region have bright future, working TOGETHER, to deliver efficient services, plan our direction, and collaborate. We know how to do this -- we’ve done it plenty before. We’ll work together to continue our great progress.

On February 15th, at the request of Mayor John Hamilton, the City of Bloomington Common Council approved resolutions to engage in public discussion and begin the process of considering annexing seven (7) areas into the City. Annexations will not take effect until 2020.  Mayor Hamilton began speaking publicly about annexation at his January 2016 Inaugural address, and continued to speak of it throughout his first year in office until the plan was officially announced in January of 2017. Following the announcement, a variety of information including maps, frequently asked questions, fiscal plan documents, property owner lists, a timeline and an opportunity to provide online comment were immediately made available at bloomington.in.gov/annex.

Annexation is hardly a new idea. The City has continually annexed land over its 199 year history.  Many people living in Monroe County have not experienced an annexation process because, despite the substantial growth of urbanized land outside Bloomington city limits since the last annexation in 2004, no effort to annex was initiated.  

Because no regular, incremental annexations were made for an unusually long period of time, the current administration finds itself tasked with “catching up” and proposing that, in some cases, relatively large areas of land that have urbanized over time be brought into the city.  Incremental annexation could have brought these areas in more gradually, but we cannot change the past. We are dealing with the challenges and opportunities before us today.

Annexation makes sense.  We know that cities grow over time as population increases. Aerial views of the Bloomington area today compared to aerial views from 50 years ago are enormously different.  In 1990, 15% of the Urbanized Area was outside the City limits, but by 2014, growth had expanded into the County and 27% of the urbanized area was located outside city limits. The currently proposed annexation would result in 12% of the urbanized area being outside the City.

What if the City had not annexed those areas that are now integral parts of our city? Many of the amenities all residents of the area enjoy today like the College Mall, our robust trail system, businesses and parks would not have had the resources to develop, stifling our progress as a community.  Neighborhoods like Gentry Estates, Renwick and Park Ridge would not be in the city if not for some of the more recent annexations.

Allowing for increased density in appropriately zoned areas, and the ability to provide the infrastructure to support that density will decrease sprawl, allowing those truly rural areas to remain so. The City can prepare areas for business and residential growth within its boundaries.  And, annexation allows for economies of scale and local focus in the provision of important local government services and resources.

Annexation has long been in the plans for much of the total area now proposed for annexation. City water and sewer extensions were installed with the agreement of the property owners receiving the infrastructure upgrades that they would agree to be part of the city when the time came.  These areas would not have developed into the urban areas they are today without the City’s services and resources.

Indeed, the land in the current annexation plan includes what was publicly known as “Areas Intended for Annexation” (AIFA), and is part of the “Two Mile Fringe” which was an even larger area for which Bloomington had zoning and planning jurisdiction going back two decades or more. Indeed, some businesses located in the AIFA made payments to the City known as “payments in lieu of annexation” for several years, anticipating eventual annexation, until the agreement for such payments expired in 2012. The agreement for the City to annex the AIFA expired in 2013.  

Land that is urbanizing or has become urbanized is typically brought into city limits in order to provide consistent planning, fire, police and utility services, sanitation and recycling, transportation systems and road infrastructure and maintenance, park amenities and programming, trails, sidewalks, and more. The proposed citywide high-speed broadband service would also be available in these areas.

The development just beyond the City’s boundaries - be it commercial, residential, or industrial - elected to be a part of this community.  Being a part of the Bloomington community means sharing in both the benefits and responsibilities of local government. Those living in the areas currently being considered for annexation will have the opportunity to vote in City elections, which despite their proximity to the City now, they do not have. They would have a direct voice in the future of Bloomington.

County government leaders, public safety providers and those living and doing business in the areas proposed for annexation have a wide variety of questions regarding how the annexation might affect them.  Many of these questions are quite specific, and the City is working diligently to provide accurate answers.

The process of annexation is designed to be just that - a process. It is driven by special legal requirements that dictate how and when the City can draw new boundaries, control how the process must unfold, and provide protections for property owners. Detailed financial analysis is underway, additional maps are being developed in response to questions, and a series of six public information meetings is already scheduled and more will follow if needed. An annexation process is very public and has many stakeholders and many concerns, all of which deserve attention.

Change always brings challenges.  There have always been personal interests that oppose even the most appropriate of annexations. Yet annexation has taken place many times before and those challenges have been successfully managed over time. There is no reason to believe they won’t be again. The reasons for annexation now are the same as they were in the past - it gives the City the opportunity and the responsibility to provide appropriate planning, public safety services, infrastructure and maintenance to urbanized areas of land and areas of future development.  That is the essence of what cities do. It brings areas into the City’s boundaries that are already a part of Bloomington and the same future. And it gives the residents and businesses a voice in the future of urbanized areas.

Speeches