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Bloomington Mayor Mulling Next Steps After Annexation Blocked

The city of Bloomington hasn’t decided whether to cancel its next public hearing for the proposed annexation of nearly 10,000 acres after lawmakers approved a budget over the weekend that blocks the proposal for the next five years.

Language written into the biennial budget bill prohibits annexation of all properties proposed after December 31, 2016 and before July of this year. That means plans to increase Bloomington’s size are on hold. Mayor John Hamilton says Bloomington is the only community impacted by the legislation.

"The fact that they did it and it affects only Bloomington for five years is what is very unusual, unprecedented and probably illegal," Hamilton says.

Hamilton says the city could pursue legal action, but he’s still deciding how to move forward. The city may still hold a public hearing on the proposal next month to get resident feedback, even though the annexation process can't move forward.

Representative Jeff Ellington, (R-Bloomington), says he's glad the annexation proposal is on hold. He says several constituents contacted him with their concerns.

"There’s those who purchased property in non-urban areas just for that specific reason," Ellington says. "They don’t want to be on a development. They don’t want to be on a city bus line."

Ellington says many were worried about facing increased property taxes if annexed into the city. Indiana is one of only a few states that allows involuntary annexations, which Ellington says he hopes to change in the coming years.

Hamilton announced his plan for annexation in February, which was followed by a series of public meetings to gather input on the idea.

Last month, the city council voted to remove one of nine zones from the plan after 93 percent of people living there signed a petition to block annexation.

The city planned to hold its next public hearing on the proposal May 31, with a final vote originally scheduled for June 30.

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