Bloomington moves to dismiss 2 of own lawsuits as legal tactic to push annexation trial ahead

Ten days ago, the city of Bloomington lost an argument in court, to move ahead with the standard judicial review of annexation for two areas west of town.

The shading on the map reflects a 1-dot-per-person plot based on the population of census blocks as measured in the 2020 decennial census.

Two days later, on Sept. 7, the city of Bloomington filed a motion to start the process to appeal the ruling of special judge Nathan Nikirk, out of Lawrence County.

Nikirk had ordered that the standard annexation trials for Area 1A and Area 1B would be delayed, until Bloomington’s related but separate litigation—over constitutional questions related to annexation waivers—is resolved.

The related constitutional litigation is actually a consolidation of seven separate lawsuits, one for each of the annexation areas.

In addition to the appeals process, the city of Bloomington has now started another procedure that could lead to faster scheduling of a standard annexation trial for the two areas. The idea is to take a step towards quick resolution of the related constitutional litigation—but just for Area 1A and Area 1B.

On Wednesday, Bloomington’s legal tactic was to file a motion to dismiss its own lawsuits for Area 1A and Area 1B, over the constitutional question of waivers.

The idea is that if the special judge Kelsey Hanlon out of Owen County were to grant Bloomington’s motion for dismissal of the Area 1A and Area 1B constitutional cases, and agrees to reconsolidate just the five remaining lawsuits, that would satisfy the condition of Nikirk’s Sept. 7 order. Continue reading “Bloomington moves to dismiss 2 of own lawsuits as legal tactic to push annexation trial ahead”

Analysis | A first look at remonstrance waivers: Numerical impact of new law not yet measured for Bloomington’s annexation effort

July is the last full month of summer before Monroe County Community School classes start on Aug. 4.

The darker shades of color indicate parcels with a remonstrance waiver of any date. Image links to a .pdf file with the image in vector graphic form.

The first day of school this year is also the date of a public hearing on Bloomington’s planned annexation of territory into the city.

The annexation of eight separate areas, each with its own parallel annexation process, would add more than 9,000 acres to Bloomington’s land area and about 14,000 new residents to its population.

With a public hearing on the horizon, and Bloomington city council votes expected in September, legal questions about remonstration waivers could come into sharper focus sooner than the time when the formal remonstration process would start.

Waivers are legal documents signed by a property owner giving up the right to remonstrate against annexation, in consideration of the ability to purchase utilities service from the city.

The key question is: Which waivers are valid? Indiana’s state legislature enacted a law in 2019 that voids any remonstration waiver signed before July 1, 2003.  The city of Bloomington says it is proceeding as if the older waivers are valid.

A formal remonstration process would start only after the city council voted to enact the annexation ordinance for a particular area. Continue reading “Analysis | A first look at remonstrance waivers: Numerical impact of new law not yet measured for Bloomington’s annexation effort”