The following was sent to the Bloomingtonian by the City of Bloomington:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 27, 2023
For more information, please contact:
Beth Cate, Corporation Counsel, Legal Department
[email protected] or 812-349-3426
Andrew Krebbs, Communications Director, Office of the Mayor
[email protected] or 812-349-3406
Trial Court Agrees with City and Strikes Down Annexation Remonstrators’ Request for Extra Time for Signatures
Bloomington, Ind.– On Friday, February 24, Special Judge Nathan Nikirk agreed with the City’s position and denied the unusual request for a second 90-day remonstrance period from residents in annexation Areas 1A and 1B. Judge Nikirk issued the ruling in County Residents Against Annexation v. the City of Bloomington.
Last March, remonstrators in annexation Areas 1A and 1B filed suit challenging Bloomington’s annexation of those areas. As part of their lawsuit, the remonstrators claimed that the Court should grant them a second 90-day period to collect remonstrance signatures. The original three-month remonstrance period ran from October 8, 2021, through January 6, 2022. The trial court rejected the remonstrators’ request for a second 90-day period and emphasized the precautions and increased access that the City and County governments provided to residents during the remonstrance period.
In his ruling, Judge Nikirk determined “that COVID-19 did not prevent the filing of remonstrance petitions with the Monroe County Auditor” and further concluded that he had no authority “to alter the annexation remonstrance window by providing new dates for signing remonstrance petitions.”
Mayor John Hamilton stated, “The City is pleased and looks forward to the next step of orderly, lawful annexation. I thank the excellent City attorneys and outside counsel for their ongoing outstanding work. We look forward to a trial showing that annexation was proper for areas 1A and 1B. We also look forward to a separate determination that the General Assembly’s second attempt to interfere with Bloomington’s annexation was unconstitutional, like their first.”
Bloomington initiated its annexation early in 2017 and would have completed the legal process during 2017. However, the General Assembly unlawfully suspended the annexation through the 2017 budget bill. The state supreme court declared that suspension unconstitutional special legislation in 2020. In 2019, while Bloomington was in the middle of winning its case, the legislature took advantage of the time it bought and interceded again, voiding most of Bloomington’s sewer extension contracts. The legislature was only able to use the 2019 law to nullify sewer extension contracts because it unconstitutionally delayed Bloomington’s annexation in 2017. The City is challenging the 2019 law in a separate lawsuit. Learn more at: https://bton.in/FDQUW
Judge Nikirk set an attorney-only status conference for Friday, March 3, 2023.