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Mayor of Bloomington facing opposition as he looks to grow city

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The mayor of Bloomington is looking to add about 15,000 people and 10,000 acres to his city, but he’s facing some major opposition.

“The basic reason the city boundaries grow is because the community is growing,” Mayor John Hamilton, D-Bloomington, said. “If we weren’t growing in terms of population and building and development, then the boundaries wouldn’t’ change.”

The mayor said the annexation would bring in about $10 million a year from new taxes, but the expenses of caring for the new land and residents would also come out to around $10 million. The City of Bloomington has a property tax rate of $.85 for every $100 of assessed value.

The annexation plan is divvied up into seven sections and the mayor is facing opposition in most if not all areas.

“We were very disappointed because this is one reason we kind of moved in this area,” Section 7 resident Joni Mitchell said. “We were looking to move into a non HOA area. We wanted to be able to have impromptu fires, things like that, and just didn’t want to be part of the city.”

Mitchell and her neighbors are circulating a petition right now to not get annexed. Their neighbors to the southeast in Section 6 got more than 90 percent of the homeowners there to sign a petition opposing the change. This week, the Bloomington City Council voted to take Section 6 out of the annexation plan.

“I think we have enough support in zone 7 we shouldn’t be under consideration either,” Randy Mitchell, Joni’s husband, said. “It’s definitely going to be more taxes for us and that’s what we are trying to fight.”

In addition to increased taxes, the Mitchell’s and their neighbors are concerned how new city ordinances could affect their way of life like backyard bonfires and the ability to shoot guns outside.

“You own your property and you should be able to do what you want on it within reasonable limits,” Randy Mitchell added.

Mayor Hamilton argues these residents will benefit from the annexation because they will get more access to city services like sewage, water and safety.

“When you are part of a city you have more intensive public safety investments and efforts,” Hamilton said.

Another major factor in this annexation situation is the construction of the new I-69 corridor being built through Bloomington. Most of the areas the mayor is looking to annex are along the new corridor. He said having all that land within the city will help development and growth along the new interstate.

“If you have multiple jurisdictions trying to do zoning, planning, decisions on that corridor it can get a little tricky, complicated,” Hamilton said.

The next time for the public to comment on this project is at a hearing May 31. The council could vote on the project at the end of June and if approved the annexation would take effect Jan. 1, 2020.