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Annexation approved 5-0

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Opponents could mount legal challenge to city’s plans to add 1,776 acres

By VINCE LUECKE
Editor

TELL CITY – By a 5-0 vote Monday, the Tell Common Council adopted an annexation ordinance that will add more than 1,700 acres of land into the city’s limits later this year.

The vote capped a nearly two-year process Mayor Barbara Ewing said was important for the city’s future and was not undertaken without a lot of thought.

“This is not a decision of the city that is taken lightly. We realize this is a sensitive matter to many of you and that change is not always easy,” she said.

Annexation was a priority listed in the city’s comprehensive plan and came from a committee of city department heads that met for much of last year.

However, the city’s plans drew opposition from residents who packed the council chambers for a March public hearing.

Many of them said they preferred to remain outside the city and said annexation would bring only higher taxes and city meddling in what they can do with their properties. Acknowledging the opposition, Ewing said there were people in the annexed area who looked forward to becoming residents of the city.

Monday’s meeting included comments from three people who did not attend last month’s hearing. All said they were against what they said was an overreach into Troy Township.

Darla Olberding, whose family owns five blocks of land, much of it now outside the city and undeveloped, said she wasn’t opposed to the city’s need to annex some nearby parcels, but said the city was grabbing too far to include land that is wooded.

Riley Horton II, who resides near the former Starlite Theatre, asked if the city would hold those with several acres in rural areas to the same mowing guidelines as those with a single lot.

“Your ordinances are going to fall on me,” he said.

Before casting their votes, members of the council said annexation was an important goal to ensuring the city could expand in the future. “The city has to grow,” said council president Gerald Yackle, who pointed out that a larger annexation attempt several years ago under then Mayor Gayle Strassell failed to even get a motion when it came before the council for adoption.

“It failed eight years ago. This one is at least going to get to a vote,” he said.

Yackle and Councilman Chris Cail said they had reservations with an agreement with Southern Indiana Power that would allow the rural cooperative to continue serving some customers in the annexed area as well as some new residential customers.

Councilwoman Julie Kohnert said she debated whether to support or oppose the city’s plans and said she changed her stance more than once. In the end, however, she voted in favor and voiced hope the annexation would help the city and its future.

“I hope something good comes out of it,” she said before the unanimous vote.

The annexation ordinance will take effect in July, but could face a remonstration process if enough landowners challenge it.

Opponents to annexation have already scheduled a meeting for 6 p.m. April 17 at Dixon’s Auction Service on Indiana 37.