INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indiana Supreme Court blocked the town of Brownsburg’s bid to annex nearly 4,500 acres of unincorporated and primarily agricultural land.
Justices ruled Wednesday the town failed to prove it had met statutory requirements for the annexation initiated in 2013.
The land was determined to be insufficiently subdivided or “urban in character,” and not needed or usable by the town “in the reasonably near future,” attorneys involved in the case explained.
The town had proposed using the land to extend the Ronald Reagan Parkway; however, officials failed to establish a construction timeline, the court noted.
The high court affirmed two lower court rulings, siding with citizens group “Fight Against Brownsburg Annexation.”
Residents who had spent years fighting what they described as a “tax revenue-motivated land grab” cheered the unanimous ruling.
“We would [have paid] extra taxes [and] extra fees,” said Nate Mantlo, a member of the opposition group who lives within the proposed annexation zone. “I would [have paid] fees for the water to roll off my barn roof.”
None of his neighbors openly supported the plan, he added.
Sabrina Graham, a leader of the opposition group who also lives within the proposed annexation zone, said her property taxes would have increased by approximately $800.
“We also would have incurred a $100 storm water fee,” she told News 8. “And what was that money going to go to? The town.”
The annexation would have increased the size of the town by more than 40% and decreased tax revenue received by the county, township, library, fire territory and school district.
“Right now, it’s like five pieces of pie,” an attorney for Fight Against Brownsburg Annexation said. “If that land had been annexed, there would have been a sixth piece of pie: the town. They would get a piece of the tax revenue and the other five [agencies] would get less.”
The Brownsburg Community School Corporation estimated it would have lost nearly $400,000 in annual funding.
State law mandates the town must wait four years before attempting to annex the same parcel of land.
Brownsburg officials declined interview requests from News 8.
“We just received the opinion and it is being reviewed,” town manager Jeff Eder said Wednesday afternoon in an emailed statement. “No further comments are being provided at this time.”