Cities and towns could no longer annex property owners against their will if Indiana lawmakers follow recommendations of a study committee when they reconvene in January.
The panel has recommended several changes to Indiana's annexation code, including eliminating involuntary annexations and lowering the percentage of homeowners required for a remonstrance, The Herald Bulletin reported of Anderson reported.
Under the proposal, annexations could occur only if 51 percent or more of affected property owners agree. The committee also wants to reduce the percentage required to fight annexation to 51 percent for a remonstrance, compared with 65 percent currently.
The recommendations will be put into a bill when the session convenes in January. The language of the bill will be hashed out in various committees, so more changes are possible.
"I think we've had an excellent and thorough discussion on the issues so far," committee chair Rep. Sharon Negele said. "But we've got a lot of work left to do."
Committee member Rep. Bob Cherry, R-Greenfield, said he also would like to see legislation address how municipalities attempting to annex the same area of land should proceed.
"Something is needed there," Cherry said. "But that may be an issue for another day and another study committee."
Cherry's district has seen plenty of fighting among municipalities over available land. This past spring, land near Interstate 69 was eyed by Lapel, Pendleton and Ingalls. Legal battles have raged in the past few years among the communities.
Several residents of the Brownsburg area, which has seen many annexations recently, asked the committee to abolish involuntary annexation.
"Indiana is one of only two states in the U.S. with involuntary annexation," said Curt Disser, one of the residents protesting the Brownsburg annexations. "These annexations are driven by one factor: money for the municipalities."