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Fort Wayne City Council Votes Down Annexation

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Zach Bernard/WBOI News
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Back in March, the City of Fort Wayne unveiled its plan to annex part of northern Allen County. However, a City Council vote on Tuesday has stopped the proposal from moving forward.

Seven council members voted against the annexation’s fiscal plan -- with only five votes needed to effectively kill the plan -- while two voted in favor. Republican Councilman John Crawford says the rollout of the plan created toxic and irreparable damage to the trust in the process.

“The chaos, the disruption to the schools, the disruption to the other units and the deep bitterness that I have felt would be felt by 22,000 annexed citizens out there,” Crawford said. “And those bad effects, chaos, disruption, bitterness, they outweigh the benefits of the annexation.”

Crawford wasn’t alone. Tom Didier was another dissenting vote, and says there were too many holes in the annexation plan for him to approve the funding.

“I appreciate what the administration has done, taking the time to meet with me and meet with the business people that we’ve had to deal with,” Didier said. “But there’s so many cracks in this foundation.”

Jeff Fuze is a resident of the proposed annexation zone, and also says the City left out important stakeholders in the planning process.

“They didn’t talk to the community, they didn’t talk to the people involved, they didn’t talk to the school system, and that’s the main reason they voted it down,” Fuze said.

Those opposed to the annexation cited concerns over increases in tax rates, the loss of property tax revenue for Northwest Allen County Schools, and having to abide by the city’s neighborhood code for things like bonfires and hunting.

Councilman Geoff Paddock voted in favor of annexation. He says he was ready to make improvements as the plan went along, and isn’t ruling out a future annexation proposal.

“I think particularly now it’s important because, since this proposal has not been agreed to, we really need to examine our current law and see not only what it provides us, but what changes we might make,” Paddock said optimistically.

The Mayor’s Office released a statement following Tuesday’s Council meeting. In it, he said, “Tonight’s decision by seven members of City Council sends a clear message that they are content with the status quo and unwilling to show leadership.”

Zach joined 89.1 WBOI as a reporter and local host for All Things Considered. He currently hosts Morning Edition.
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