Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

December 7, 2012

Farmers fight involuntary annexation

By Wade Coggeshall
CNHI

AVON — A farming family in the southeast corner of Washington Township is fighting against involuntary annexation into Avon.

The town is seeking to annex four areas - one east of County Road 625 East, two others near 1050 East and Ronald Reagan Parkway, and the Grundy farm, which is on about 125 acres near Perry Road.

Attorney Mel Daniel spoke on behalf of the Grundys during a public hearing Thursday on the proposed annexations.

"They really have never wanted their farm in any town," he said. "They're farmers, they're independent, and they like being independent. All the Grundys have ever asked for is the right to be left alone."

In a letter published in the Nov. 10 Hendricks County Flyer, Denny Grundy wrote that the Town of Avon attempted to annex his farm six years ago, and only stopped after being told the farm would remain an agricultural operation.

Among the reasons Grundy cited for not wanting to be included in Avon or any town: Ordinances may be adopted that have an adverse effect on farming and taxes would increase with no change in services already provided by the county.

Daniel noted that he's practiced law in the county for 40 years now.

"There's not a town in Hendricks County that's ever involuntarily annexed a family farm," he said. "If this goes forward, it will be the first time."

He added that if Avon goes through with its annexation, the Grundys will file a remonstrance.

"To put them in a position to defend their property by spending their own money and Avon spend its tax money is really unfortunate," Daniel said.

Town Manager Tom Klein said there's an agricultural overlay district in Avon's zoning code.

"A farm can continue every use it does now," he said. "The agricultural overlay district cannot be removed without the consent of the property owner. Those uses can never be regulated unless that overlay district is removed. And it can only be removed by the consent of the property owner."

The dispute may not matter in a few years. A plan from the Greater Avon Study Committee, to be introduced at a meeting between the town council and Washington Township Board at 7 p.m. Tuesday in town hall, recommends the town and township consolidate.

Both boards have a year to consider it. If both sides approve, it goes to the voters in the 2014 election. If it passes, the consolidation is effective Jan. 1, 2015. At that point the Grundy farm and every other part of Washington Township would be in Avon. The Grundys could then lose ag overlay protections they'd otherwise have if they annex now.

"With the population growth we've had, it's inevitable that your property is going to end up in some town," Washington Township Trustee Don Hodson said.

His reason for wanting the farm in Avon is to protect the tax base that pays for fire protection in Washington Township. If Plainfield were to involuntarily annex the property, that would dilute the tax base, he said.

"The folks who are left would have to pay higher taxes," Hodson said.

wade.coggeshall@flyergroup.com