HUNTINGTON, Ind. (WANE) – More than three hundred people packed the Huntington City Building Council Chambers Tuesday evening for a public hearing on the first phase of the possible annexation of Huntington Township.
The majority of people at the meeting were opposed to the idea and were hoping that council would listen to their concerns and consider voting against the plan. People against the annexation are afraid their farmland will be taken away and developed, their property taxes will increase substantially and run them off their land, and the city will control their lifestyles including gun use. However, the Huntington mayor and his proponents of the plan said annexation will prepare Huntington for a brighter future.
“When you drive through area one, you get the feel that you’re in Huntington,” Mayor Brooks Fetters said. “In fact, most people don’t know that they’re not in Huntington.”
The area included in the first phase stretches along parts of Highway 24 which include the hospital and university. Fetters calls that area the gateway connecting Huntington to Fort Wayne. He said that area is projected to develop both in a residential and commercial sense and wants to put Huntington in a position to be ready for the change.
“That dream is being made on the back of the people who own that land,” Marla Foster, who spearheaded many of the opposition meetings, said. “Those farmers want to continue to farm.”
The annexation will increase the size of Huntington by about 3000 acres, and institutions like the schools and libraries in the county will lose a small portion of their property tax revenue. However, Fetters said once the area develops, the improvements will eventually raise the property tax base. Fetters said he wanted to make the city’s intentions clear to the public, but residents in Huntington Township said all they want is a say since they couldn’t even vote on the council members who will be voting for or against the annexation.
The next step in the annexation process will be city council taking an initial vote at the July 8th meeting.