Lebanon Worth Annexation
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On November 26, 2012, our Lebanon City Council initially passed on first reading Ordinance No. 2012-19 titled “An Ordinance Annexing Contiguous Properties Known As Worth Annexation To The City Of Lebanon, Indiana.” The first public notice that Lebanon was considering the involuntary Worth Annexation was provided less than 12 hours beforehand at 8:00 AM on November 26. The Worth Annexation initially included 8,270 acres in Center and Worth townships south of S.R. 32, west of C.R. 650 E, north of C.R. 400 S, and east of I-65.
On January 28, 2013, our Lebanon City Council passed on first reading Amended Ordinance No. 2012-19 titled “An Ordinance Amending Ordinance 2012-19 Annexing Contiguous Properties Known As Worth Annexation To The City Of Lebanon, Indiana.” The first public notice that Lebanon was to consider an amended Worth Annexation ordinance was provided less than 8 hours beforehand at 11:45 AM on January 28. The amended involuntary annexation area includes 1,350 acres in Worth Township south of C.R. 200 S, west of C.R. 500 E, north of C.R. 400 S, and east of C.R. 400 E.
The text of the January 28 Amended Ordinance No. 2012-19 (including a map of the proposed annexation area) can be found online at http://www.finplaneducation.net/worth_annexation_ordinance.htm. Also, the text of the initial November 26 Ordinance No. 2012-19 can be found on this web page.
Before the I-65 Corridor Annexation on December 10, 2008, the City of Lebanon covered 3,849 acres. The I-65 Corridor Annexation included 3,675 acres. To put the extent of the initially proposed 8,270-acre Worth Annexation in perspective, it is 2.25 times larger than Lebanon’s failed and costly I-65 Corridor Annexation and would have increased Lebanon's current land area by 110%.
The amended 1,350-acre Lebanon Worth Annexation is no less illogical than the initially proposed 8,270-acre annexation, and Watchdog Indiana will continue to analyze Lebanon's land grab efforts in the upcoming weeks and months – it will probably be the middle of August 2013 before Lebanon could finalize the annexation IF the courts decide Lebanon’s claim to the Worth Township portion of the annexation territory is more valid than Whitestown’s claim to this same portion.
(1) The required Lebanon City Council public hearing cannot be held before 60 days after the publication of notice. Notice of the public hearing has not yet been published.
(2) Final passage of the Lebanon Annexation by the Lebanon City Council can occur not earlier than 30 days and not later than 60 days after the public hearing. The approved annexation ordinance must be published in The Lebanon Reporter.
(3) The remonstrance petitions must be filed with a Boone County circuit or superior court within 90 days after the publication of the annexation ordinance in The Lebanon Reporter.
Pertinent Indiana Code Annexation Laws That Help Protect The Public
Our Lebanon Mayor Huck Lewis and our Lebanon City Council public servants cannot be allowed to ignore the intent of the Indiana Code annexation laws meant to protect the public against illogical and predatory annexations.
One annexation law meant to protect the
public is the following:
The Lebanon Worth Annexation Amended Ordinance No. 2012-19 was irresponsibly passed on first reading by our Lebanon City Council WITHOUT an adopted written fiscal plan.H.J. Umbaugh has prepared a draft copy of a fiscal plan, but this fiscal plan was not adopted prior to the first reading passage of Amended Ordinance No. 2012-19l.
Another annexation law meant to
protect the public is the following:
Public hearing; notice
(b) A municipality may adopt an ordinance under this chapter only after the legislative body has held a public hearing concerning the proposed annexation. The municipality shall hold the public hearing not earlier than sixty (60) days after the date the ordinance is introduced. All interested parties must have the opportunity to testify as to the proposed annexation. Except as provided in subsection (d), notice of the hearing shall be:
(1) published in accordance with IC 5-3-1 except that the notice shall be published at least sixty (60) days before the hearing; and
(2) mailed as set forth in section 2.2 of this chapter, if section 2.2 of this chapter applies to the annexation.
(c) A municipality may adopt an ordinance under this chapter not earlier than thirty (30) days or not later than sixty (60) days after the legislative body has held the public hearing under subsection (b).
The required Lebanon City Council public hearing for the Lebanon Worth Amended Annexation Ordinance No. 2012-19 cannot be held before 60 days after the publication of notice. Notice of the public hearing has not yet been published.
Our Lebanon City Council can pass the Lebanon Worth Annexation
Amended Ordinance No. 2012-19 on second reading not earlier than 30 days and not later
than 60 days after the public hearing.
It is hoped our Lebanon Mayor Huck Lewis and our Lebanon City Council public servants will realize there is no legitimate perceived “need” that validates the arrogant disregard of important laws meant to protect the public against illogical and predatory annexations.
Annexation Remonstrance Process
Opponents of this illogical Worth Annexation land grab need not feel overwhelmed and helpless. The resident population density of the territory sought to be annexed is not at least three persons per acre. Sixty percent of the territory is not subdivided into lots and parcels one acre or less. The territory is not zoned for commercial, business, or industrial uses. These and other shortcomings show that the annexation territory cannot be used by Lebanon for development in the reasonably near future, thereby making it relatively easy and inexpensive to defeat the annexation in our local Boone County courts. All it takes is a remonstrance petition filed by (a) the owners of at least 65% of the parcels of land in the proposed annexation territory or (b) the owners of more than 75% in assessed valuation of the land in the proposed annexation territory. Annexation opponents can use a remonstrance petition to successfully defeat the greedy annexation attempt of Lebanon. The Indiana Code section that pertains to the annexation remonstrance process is listed next.
Remonstrances; filing; determination of signatures; hearing
Sec. 11. (a) Except as provided in section 5.1(i) of this chapter and subsections (d) and (e), whenever territory is annexed by a municipality under this chapter, the annexation may be appealed by filing with the circuit or superior court of a county in which the annexed territory is located a written remonstrance signed by:
(1) at least sixty-five percent (65%) of the owners of land in the annexed territory; or
(2) the owners of more than seventy-five percent (75%) in assessed valuation of the land in the annexed territory.
The remonstrance must be filed within ninety (90) days after the publication of the annexation ordinance under section 7 of this chapter, must be accompanied by a copy of that ordinance, and must state the reason why the annexation should not take place.
(b) On receipt of the remonstrance, the court shall determine whether the remonstrance has the necessary signatures. In determining the total number of landowners of the annexed territory and whether signers of the remonstrance are landowners, the names appearing on the tax duplicate for that territory constitute prima facie evidence of ownership. Only one (1) person having an interest in each single property, as evidenced by the tax duplicate, is considered a landowner for purposes of this section.
(c) If the court determines that the remonstrance is sufficient, it shall fix a time, within sixty (60) days of its determination, for a hearing on the remonstrance. Notice of the proceedings, in the form of a summons, shall be served on the annexing municipality. The municipality is the defendant in the cause and shall appear and answer.
(d) If an annexation is initiated by property owners under section 5.1 of this chapter and all property owners within the area to be annexed petition the municipality to be annexed, a remonstrance to the annexation may not be filed under this section.
(e) This subsection applies if:
(1) the territory to be annexed consists of not more than one hundred (100) parcels; and
(2) eighty percent (80%) of the boundary of the territory proposed to be annexed is contiguous to the municipality.
An annexation may be appealed by filing with the circuit or superior court of a county in which the annexed territory is located a written remonstrance signed by at least seventy-five percent (75%) of the owners of land in the annexed territory as determined under subsection (b).
Concerned – and rational – Lebanon citizens must help residents within the proposed Worth Annexation territory use the remonstrance petition process to defeat the predatory Worth Annexation.
Myron Cragun (email@example.com) and Alan Cragun (firstname.lastname@example.org) are among the Worth Annexation remonstrance leaders. They are leading the remonstrance against both the Lebanon Annexation and the Whitestown Northside Annexation.
Susan Austin (email@example.com) and Mike Hancock (firstname.lastname@example.org) are collecting the following petitions: (1) Petition For And Consent To Annexation Into The Town of Whitestown, Indiana; (2) Petition Remonstrating Against Annexation By The Town Of Zionsville for Worth Township land owners; (3) Petition Remonstrating Against Annexation By The City Of Lebanon for Worth Township land owners.
Myron Cragun (email@example.com) , Len McFarling (firstname.lastname@example.org), Stan and Bev Rader (email@example.com), and Harold and Joyce Shirley (firstname.lastname@example.org) lead the remonstrance effort in two sections of the initially proposed Worth Annexation - the Center Township section and the Worth Township section north of CR 200 S.
You can also send an E-mail to email@example.com if you wish to sign a remonstrance petition. The Petition includes the following statement: “The Petitioner acknowledges that by signing this Petition he or she is consenting to any and all legal proceedings opposing Lebanon’s annexation, but by signing this Petition he or she expressly does not assume any personal financial obligation of such legal proceeding.”
A “Petition Remonstrating Against Annexation By The City Of Lebanon” must be signed by the owners of at least 65% of the parcels of land in the Lebanon Worth Annexation territory (or by the owners of more than 75% in assessed valuation of the land in the annexation territory) to defeat the Worth Annexation in court.
The “Petition For And Consent To Annexation Into The Town of Whitestown, Indiana” must be signed by those land owners within three miles of Lebanon who wish to be annexed by Whitestown (the Whitestown Northside Annexation is within three miles of Lebanon). Because the Lebanon City Council does not consent to the Whitestown Northside Annexation, at least 51% of the land owners in the Northside Annexation territory must sign the Petition for the Northside Annexation to legally proceed. The Whitestown Northside Annexation is defeated if at least 51% of the annexation territory land owners decline to sign the Petition.
Lebanon Worth Annexation Facts
Limited Lebanon Worth Annexation facts are available because Lebanon recklessly began their involuntary annexation before a fiscal plan was adopted. Please visit this web page regularly for updated information regarding the Lebanon Worth Annexation as more facts become available. Also, please send an E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and put LEBANON ANNEXATION in the subject line to receive annexation E-mail Updates.
Will my taxes go up?
Fact #1: Worth Township residents within the proposed annexation territory must be aware of the property tax increases that would be imposed by Lebanon. Currently, the total property tax rate for Worth Township residents is $1.7978. The total property tax rate for Lebanon is $2.1945, which is 22% more than Worth Township.
Fact # 2: Lebanon residents can also expect property tax increases from the Worth Annexation. Supporters of the four-year old Lebanon I-65 Annexation have repeatedly spread the misinformation that the property taxes of Lebanon residents have been lowered by the assessed value captured within the annexation territory. The amount of annual property tax bills for a typical Lebanon homeowner that went to the City of Lebanon increased every year from $260.44 in 2009, to $277.23 in 2010, to $290.01 in 2011, and to $334.83 this year. After the Lebanon I-65 Annexation, Lebanon dug its fist 29% deeper into the billfolds of typical Lebanon homeowners at a time when inflation increased only 7%. Lebanon residents can expect even more property tax increases if we allow the proposed Worth Annexation to receive final approval.
Fact #3: Lebanon was allowed to impose a $447,383 excess property tax levy for each of the 2010-13 years because of its I-65 Corridor Annexation. The future excess property tax levy that Lebanon will undoubtedly choose to impose because of the Worth Annexation could be $165,000 annually.
Will my electric costs go up?
Partly because of the I-65 Corridor Annexation, Lebanon Utilities electric costs also have skyrocketed. The cost per kilowatt hour for a typical Lebanon homeowner has increased 20% from four year ago. The Worth Annexation would increase our electric costs even more. One-fourth of Lebanon’s recent 13.2% electric rate increase is to pay the debt service on two new substations within the Lebanon I-65 Corridor Annexation.
Is the four-year-old Lebanon I-65 Corridor Annexation a success?
Fact #5: According to Lebanon’s fiscal plan for its I-65 Corridor Annexation, by 2019 developers will build 3,486 homes with an average $145,000 sales price and 40 commercial developments with an average $18 million net assessed value. By January 1, 2013, there were supposed to be 1,358 new homes and 15 new commercial developments within the I-65 Corridor Annexation territory. However, zero new homes and commercial developments have been built.
How will my property be zoned if the proposed Lebanon Annexation takes effect?
Fact #6: All of the 1,350 acres within the currently proposed Lebanon Annexation territory would be zoned Single Family 1. The Agriculture zoning currently provided by Boone County would be eliminated. This zoning change would make it much easier for developers to proceed with the large residential developments that inevitably result in the loss of farms and the lower quality of life associated with suburban sprawl.
Lebanon Worth Annexation & Whitestown Northside Annexation Comparison
The Lebanon Worth Annexation includes 1,350 acres in Worth Township south of C.R. 200 S, west of C.R. 500 E, north of C.R. 400 S, and east of C.R. 400 E. The Lebanon City Council Amended Ordinance No. 2012-19 describing the Worth Annexation (including a map of the proposed annexation area) can be found online at http://www.finplaneducation.net/worth_annexation_ordinance.htm. A fiscal plan has not yet been adopted for the Worth Annexation.
The Whitestown Northside Annexation wholly includes the Lebanon Worth Annexation boundaries and covers 2,621.43 acres in Worth Township south of C.R. 200 S, west of Barnes Street (C.R. 650 E), north of Albert S. White Boulevard (CR 400 S), and east of CR 400 E. The Whitestown Town Council Ordinance No. 2012-21 describing the Northside Annexation (including a map of the proposed annexation area) can be found online at http://www.whitestown.in.gov/docs/Northside-Proposed.pdf. The fiscal plan for the Northside Annexation can be found online at http://www.whitestown.in.gov/docs/Northside.pdf.
At least one-fourth of the aggregate external boundaries of both the Lebanon and Whitestown annexation areas coincide with their respective existing municipal boundaries. The current populations of both annexation areas are less than three persons per acre. Neither of the annexation territories is at least 60% subdivided. Also, neither of the annexation territories is zoned for commercial, business, or industrial uses.
Listed next are twelve comparison points between the proposed Lebanon Worth Annexation and the proposed Whitestown Northside Annexation.
1. Annexation Effective Date Deferral
2. Agricultural Land Exemption
3. Non-Agricultural Tax Abatement
4. Non-Capital Municipal Services
5. Street Construction/Re-Construction
6. Street Lighting
7. Sewer Facilities
8. Water Facilities
9. Stormwater Drainage Facilities
10. Electric Infrastructure
11. Zoning Classifications
(see "Farm Land Replaced with Suburban Sprawl" below)
12. Revenues Versus Costs
Worth Annexation residents could not realistically expect to receive water and sewer service from Lebanon Utilities any time soon. Four years have gone by, and residents within the I-65 Corridor Annexation have no Lebanon Utilities water and sewer service. It will likely cost Lebanon Utilities $2.3 million to extend water service and $5.3 million to extend sewer service throughout the Worth Annexation territory. Not even the spendthrifts at Lebanon Utilities will undertake such expensive capital projects without cost-sharing from developers – and developers will build in Anson, Lebanon Business Park, and within the Zionsville Schools boundaries long before they seek to develop the I-65 Corridor and Worth annexations.
The foregoing comparison points between the proposed Lebanon Worth Annexation and the proposed Whitestown Northside Annexation raise some important questions.
Would the current and future quality of life for the residents in the annexation territories (and for all residents in central Boone County) be impacted significantly enough by suburban sprawl to make it worthwhile to defeat both the Lebanon and Whitestown annexations?
Would defeating both the Lebanon and Whitestown annexations help support orderly development that pays for itself by thwarting the selfish interests of those who want to support developers with tax and utility cost increases?
Is the annexation of unincorporated areas of Boone County “inevitable” making it advantageous for land owners in the Whitestown Northside Annexation territory to choose the incentive-laden Whitestown annexation over the incentive-free predatory annexation of Lebanon?
Would Lebanon have difficulty providing municipal and utility services to the Whitestown Northside Annexation territory at a cost competitive with Whitestown? If the cost of extending municipal services is unnecessarily high, the effective value of the property of current landowners for future development is reduced because the high costs must be factored into the developed value of the land. The lowest cost of providing services would generate the highest residual value of land for development purposes.
Would land owners in the Whitestown Northside Annexation territory have more direct input in Whitestown government than Lebanon government, thereby having a greater voice in the development of their land?
All central Boone County working families have a stake in how these questions are answered by the Center and Worth township land owners within the proposed Lebanon Worth Annexation and the proposed Whitestown Northside Annexation.
Farm Land Replaced with Suburban Sprawl
Why has the Boone County Farm Bureau been silent during the controversy
surrounding recent efforts by the City of Lebanon to annex 8,270 acres of mostly
farm land in Center and Worth townships?
The Boone County Area Comprehensive Plan is a guide for future growth and development in unincorporated areas of Boone County. Comprehensive Plan Goal No. 18 is to “Recognize agriculture as productive landscape and preserve these uses for the production of food, fiber, and fuel.” Goal No. 20 is to “Conserve farmland and agriculture with zoning standards that protect, promote, and grow agriculture within Boone County.”
The Land-Use Plan is included in the Comprehensive Plan and is a “tool to guide growth in an orderly and desirable fashion.” The Land-Use Plan retains agriculture as the largest land use and these areas are intended “to conserve the rural character in the unincorporated areas of the county, as well as to protect farming operations.”
An important part of the Land-Use Plan is the Future Land-Use Map. Almost all territory within the proposed Lebanon annexation is designated as General Agriculture on the Future Land-Use Map. General Agriculture areas allow continued farming and some residential development that may occur on well and septic.
Lebanon’s annexation ordinance 2012-19 is a direct assault on Boone County’s Comprehensive Plan. The ordinance mandates that the zoning classification for all real estate within the annexation territory would become Single Family 1. While the permitted uses of Lebanon’s Single Family 1 zoning include crop production, this Lebanon zoning classification is intended to provide areas for single family residential land uses developed in suburban-style subdivisions. The Agriculture zoning classification currently provided by Boone County would be eliminated. Because zoning variances would not be required, Lebanon’s zoning change would make it much easier for developers to proceed with large residential developments on land where farming has been identified as the highest and best use by the Comprehensive Plan. The end result would inevitably be the loss of farms and the lower quality of life associated with suburban sprawl.
Our Boone County farm land is much too valuable to let Lebanon’s
developer-compromised officials waste it on yet more suburban housing
boondoggles. Indiana Code 32-30-6-9(b) declares that “it
is the policy of the state to conserve, protect, and encourage the development
and improvement of its agricultural land for the production of food and other
agricultural products.” Indiana agriculture not only produces food, fuel,
and fiber to meet our domestic needs, but it helps create a U.S. agricultural
trade surplus through membership in the 12-state Food Export Association of the
On January 27, the Lebanon City Council scaled back its annexation appetite to 1,350 acres in Worth Township. However, the same need to protect farm land exists because most of the land in this smaller annexation territory is designated for General Agriculture by the Boone County Area Comprehensive Plan.
The Boone County Farm Bureau needs to join the effort to defeat all greedy and harmful Lebanon annexation attempts. Our local branch of the Indiana Farm Bureau must oppose all Lebanon annexation ordinances that interfere with a farmer’s right-to-farm. The 2013 Indiana Farm Bureau State Policies 504.01 and 504.02, which pertain to local planning and agriculture land protection, provide helpful guidance. All U.S. communities surrounded by high-producing farm land must strive to preserve the best soil so our children and grandchildren will not be forced to import their food because we failed to use our farm land responsibly.
Three Misleading Statements by Lebanon
Our Lebanon Mayor and City Council members continue to spread misinformation about their illogical and predatory annexation efforts.
One misleading statement is that Lebanon’s recently proposed annexations were in response to requests by Worth Township residents who prefer to be annexed by Lebanon instead of Whitestown. Citizen leaders within the smaller 1,350-acre Amended Worth Annexation had already obtained by February 4 signed remonstrance petitions from the owners of 53 of 66 (or 80%) of the proposed annexation parcels. Where are the complaints from aggrieved residents in Center and Worth townships when Lebanon pulled back from the originally proposed 8,270-acre annexation? Can Lebanon produce even one petition from a Worth Township parcel owner asking to be voluntarily annexed by Lebanon?
Another misleading statement is that Lebanon’s annexation is needed to extend the 3-mile limit within which Whitestown cannot complete an involuntary annexation. Lebanon is already well-protected by the 3-mile limit from its existing boundaries. The nearest involuntary annexation that Whitestown can legally attempt is 3.3 square miles of Worth Township that is mostly a 0.6-mile wide strip between C.R. 700 E and the east boundary of Worth Township. This strip of land is much too far away for Lebanon to reasonably extend utility services to support development. Also, Zionsville is currently competing with Whitestown to annex this territory. The map below includes Lebanon’s existing 3-mile limit protecting against Whitestown annexations.
Yet another misleading statement is that Lebanon needs the annexation just north of Anson for future development. It just doesn’t make sense that Lebanon can afford to extend utilities more than three miles down I-65 any time within the foreseeable future, and that a developer would choose Lebanon before accepting the enticements of free infrastructure within an Anson TIF District. Besides, Lebanon needs to deal first with its unsuccessful I-65 Corridor Annexation. According to the I-65 Corridor Annexation Fiscal Plan, by 2019 developers are supposed to build 3,486 homes with an average $145,000 sales price and 40 commercial developments with an average $18 million net assessed value. Today there are supposed to be 1,385 new homes and 15 new commercial developments within the annexation area. However, zero new homes and commercial developments have been built.
Some hope that our developer-compromised elected officials stubbornly pursue their nonsensical annexation all the way to a remonstrance hearing before a Boone County court. Any one of our elected local superior or circuit court judges is expected to objectively determine that the facts clearly favor denial of Lebanon’s involuntary annexation. State law provides that Lebanon may not make further attempts to annex the Amended Worth Annexation territory or any part of the territory during the four years after a court judgment. Otherwise, Lebanon could make further attempts to annex any part of the territory (1) after 12 months if the annexation ordinance is repealed by Lebanon less than 61 days after the ordinance publication and before a court hearing, (2) after 24 months if the annexation ordinance is repealed by Lebanon at least 61 days but not more than 120 days after the ordinance publication and before a court hearing, or (3) after 42 months if the annexation ordinance is repealed by Lebanon at least 121 days after the ordinance publication and before a court judgment.
We are all better off – existing Lebanon residents and annexation territory land owners – if our elected public servants restrain their land grab urges until an annexation is actually needed and can be used by Lebanon for its development in the reasonably near future.
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This page was last updated on 02/04/13.