(La Porte, IN) - The City of La Porte is moving forward in the process of annexing the 39 North Conservancy District as last night, the city council voted to accept the signatures on a petition from property owners asking to be annexed.
Signatures were obtained from more than 51 percent of owners with taxable property in the district as required under state law to move forward, per City Attorney Nick Otis.
Otis also told council members accepting the petition is one of the legal steps that must be taken in what’s going to be at least a several month process.
“Per statute, this needs to be filed with the city and, by accepting it, you’re deeming it filed with the city of La Porte,” he said.
Otis said other steps must now be taken in the coming weeks and months before the city council can officially vote on whether to annex. He said the requirements include a public hearing before the city council makes its decision.The district consists of close to 1,000 acres along Indiana 39 between Severs Road and the Indiana Toll Road.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, 39 North Conservancy District resident Jody Slabaugh claimed the city was in violation because it was following a not-as-strict state law governing voluntary annexation. He alleged the city initiated the effort and, therefore, must follow the law governing that approach, which has more requirements such as the presentation of a fiscal plan on providing services and more public outreach meetings.
“It is my hope that 39 North quits negotiating with the city and proceeds to court. It’s not a voluntary annexation,” he said.
Otis said copies of the fiscal plan once approved by the city council will be mailed to every property owner in the district.
“The city is not hiding anything. We are following the statute. We have nothing to hide,” he said.