Huntertown looking to possibly grow

HUNTERTOWN, IND. (WANE) – Huntertown town leaders held a public hearing Wednesday night to let the public weigh-in on a possible future annexation.  The annexation would add about 1,500 people to the town’s population.

The area the town is considering is a little east of town.

“It encompasses the Turnbury Willow Run subdivision and a portion of the Twin Eagles subdivision,” said town council President Patricia Freck, who added that taxes could actually decrease if annexation is approved.  “The area also includes an area south of Gump Road.”

The area south of Gump Road is mostly undeveloped land, where subdivisions, called Whisper Rock and Timber Ridge, are set to go.  An attorney representing the two developers spoke at the public hearing on the developers’ behalf.

“Their main issue with the whole annexation is they feel they’re caught in the middle of a dispute between the city of Fort Wayne and the town of Huntertown,” Josh Neal, an attorney with Barrett and McNagny, said.

The issue over Huntertown’s sewer service was the main issue that was brought up by the few people who spoke.

“I’ve dealt with Fort Wayne for too long,” James Russell, who was in favor of the annexation said.  Russell owns land inside the area that’s up for annexation.  “I think this is the best opportunity for the people of Huntertown.  It might get us the sewer.  It’s still questionable, but that’s what we are waiting for, we’re waiting for a sewer.”

Neal said Huntertown put out a raid ordinance last year, which is keeping Fort Wayne from connecting new customers to the city’s sewer lines that’s within a certain distance to the town limits.  He also added that a moratorium was issued preventing connections, too.

“If our client could be assured they could have a sewer connection in the near foreseeable future – the city of Fort Wayne is the only entity that has admitted it can do that,” Neal said.  Huntertown has spent the last few years working on a plan to build a new wastewater treatment plant.  “I don’t think [the developers] would have any opposition to the annexation if the sewer issue was resolved.”

Freck said the purposed site has been part of the town’s comprehension plan for quite some time.  “We’ve talked to residents out there, and they seemed encouraged about the annexation,” she said.  “We just feel it’s time to do this.”

Freck said the annexation would require Huntertown to provide police and fire in the next 12 months, and other services, mostly to streets and roads, within three years.  Annexation would also boost the town’s tax revenue by $100,000.

However, annexation could hurt the budget of others, such as Northwest Allen County Schools.  Superintendent Chris Himsel spoke at the meeting, and asked the town to work with the district to change laws so the school wouldn’t be affected by the annexation.

Himsel said the annexation could cost his district $60,000 next year, which is half of the estimated cost of a 2015 project to the roof of Huntertown Elementary.

“We usually try to stay neutral on annexation issues,” Himsel said.  “We let the towns work those issues out with their residents.”

Freck said the town must wait 30 days before anything can be done.  A month from now, an ordinance can be introduced.  She guessed that an ordinance would be introduced at a council meeting in July.

The Huntertown town council meets the first and third Wednesday of each month.

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