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New Law Impacts Annexation Remonstrance Waivers

Lauren Chapman
IPB News

 A bill that will impact the ability of property owners to challenge annexation is among hundreds that went into effect this week.

When a city like Bloomington wants to expand its limits through annexation, people and businesses can oppose their property being added to the city through a process called remonstrating.

Certain properties have annexation remonstrance waivers associated with them that prohibit the owners from challenging annexation. Many of them date back years, and still stand even if the property changes hands.

"The waiver’s a contract," says Bloomington Deputy Mayor Mick Renneisen. "Someone was extended sewer service that the city provides, and they signed that said if we get the sewer service which is an urbanized service, we realize we can’t protest when you come to annex us later."

But, legislators passed a bill earlier this year that essentially invalidates some waivers. It makes several changes, including voiding annexation remonstrance waivers executed before July 1, 2003. It also says waivers recorded after that time expire after 15 years.

Rep. Jeff Ellington (R-Bloomfield) says part of the legislation expands on a 2015 bill that put a 15-year time limit on remonstrance waivers before they expire. He says the new law extends that to older agreements. 

"These waivers that were done maybe 30, 40 years ago were never filed with the properties so it would not follow the deed," he says. "It would be just like a roofer fixing somebody’s roof and then that person sells a home, four or five years later a roofer comes back and says by the way I never got paid for my roof, now you the new homeowner owe us. That’s not fair."

But Bloomington leaders say the legislation impedes their ability to grow by doing away with some longstanding agreements.

"It doesn’t sound fair to us or any other community that naturally is going to grow" Renneisen says. "We certainly want our urbanized areas to grow."

Bloomington’s plans to annex nearly 10,000 acres are on hold after the state passed language in its 2017 budget bill blocking annexations proposed during a narrow window of time.

The city sued claiming the language is unconstitutional because it singles out Bloomington. The issue isstill caught up in court.