By Skip Daley – South Central Indiana News Network
County Residents Against Annexation (CRAA), an organization formed in response to the proposed annexation of nearly 10,000 acres of Monroe County by Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton, believe they have the support to cancel the process in at least 6 of the 7 proposed zones. CRAA, led by President, Margaret Clements hosted a ‘Remonstration Closure Event’ at the Monroe County Courthouse on Thursday evening, 90 days after the City of Bloomington filed official notice of intent to annex 8 separate zones. Bloomington withdrew their request for one of those zones, leaving 7.
County residents in the proposed zones had 90 days for remonstrance, the legal means in Indiana to protest being absorbed by an incorporated municipality. Affected property owners needed to sign and have a document notarized, stating their intent to oppose the annexation. That deadline was January 6, 2022.
The event was 30 minutes, and was attended by about 50 residents, mostly volunteers who led the effort to educate residents and collect signatures, but the message was strong. It was one of thanks for the countless hours of volunteering to ensure the voices of the community were represented.
Monroe County Commissioner Julie Thomas kicked off the event thanking Clements for her dedication and efforts toward inspiring activism. Commissioner Lee Jones delivered a message that Citizens can make a difference, while Penny Githens discussed the need to change current state annexation legislation.
“Indiana is one of the few states that allows for involuntary annexation,” said Githens. “We all know future annexations will happen, but let’s hope they’re done in a matter that brings all of us together, instead of pushing us apart,” Githens added to resounding applause.
The room was filled with a group with diverse political backgrounds and affiliations, but the residents did all come together for a common purpose, and the group organizer was the one to deliver the popular news.
“We have reached an historic accomplishment,” said Clements. “We have [mostly] canceled this ill-advised and aggressive annexation plan,” she announced before getting into the specific numbers.
In order to contest the annexation, 51% of property owner signatures were required, and in order to cancel the annexation, 65% of the property owners needed to sign. Although the reported numbers to date are not official, CRAA has announced that 6 of the 7 proposed zones will be cancelled, and the 7th zone has at least enough to contest, if it falls short of the amount needed to cancel.
Below are the numbers which the organization believes to have accomplished, by zone:
· Zone 1A: 1092 obtained / 962 required
· Zone 1B: 1196 obtained* / 1367 required
· Zone 1C: 92 obtained / 69 required
· Zone 2: 1069 obtained / 864 required
· Zone 3: 76 obtained / 66 required
· Zone 4: 66 obtained / 60 required
· Zone 5: 62 obtained / 60 required
*there are additional uncounted signatures from Zone 1B