BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — City officials for Bloomington acted to advance its annexation of west-side areas 1A and 1B by moving to dismiss its constitutional claims related to those areas in a separate lawsuit filed in March 2022.
The new efforts from the city were enacted on Wednesday. The annexation efforts originally began for the city in 2017 before a state law, later deemed unconstitutional, halted the process.
According to previous reports, on Sept. 5 a special judge issued a stay in the County Residents Against Annexation v. the City of Bloomington, a lawsuit filed by some remonstrators from Areas 1A and 1B seeking to challenge annexation of those west-side neighborhoods.
The special judge in that lawsuit halted any litigation in the matter pending resolution of a separate 2022 lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Indiana’s 2019 law affecting sewer waivers.
That law was challenged after the city said that it went against the state’s constitution by interfering “with pre-existing contracts.” The law purported to nullify hundreds of contracts that allow non-municipal residents to connect to the city’s sewer system in exchange for those residents waiving their right to contest a future annexation.
According to Friday’s release, by dismissing the constitutional claims related to the west-side areas, the city was indicating its readiness to proceed to the trial on the merits of the annexations.
In a motion for voluntary dismissal of the claims, the city said it was doing so “in order to proceed expeditiously with the remonstrance case before Judge Nikrik,” and that it was doing so “in accordance with Judge Nikirk’s directive.”
The city plans to proceed in the case challenging the constitutionality of annexation efforts of areas 1C, 2, 3, 4 and 5 but in light of potential years-long litigation involved, has dropped claims to areas 1A and 1B for a more timely resolution to the annexation.
Bloomington’s long-time Mayor released a statement about the pending litigation:
“Uncertainty and delayed annexation is disruptive to all concerned. We have long sought a timely annexation to right-size our city, consistent with state law and despite repeated illegal interventions from the state government.” Mayor John Hamilton stated. “Now is the time to get this major component resolved. We are confident in the propriety and value of the annexation and want to move forward so that Bloomington can continue to thrive and grow.”