HOME PLACE - Concerned Citizens for Home Place, an organization formed to legally contest the forced annexation by the City of Carmel of their territory in south Hamilton County has announced it has negotiated an agreement with Carmel whereby the organization will no longer dispute the annexation allowing Carmel to annex the Home Place district effective January 2018.
"We have successfully protected our district and its property owners from the forced annexation of Carmel for nearly 15 years. Regrettably, our legal efforts and options have run their course resulting in court decisions favoring Carmel," said Matt Milam, CCHP president. "These rulings have been based on the County leasing fire services from Carmel for our district, whereby the courts found this arrangement constituted adequate grounds for Carmel to forcibly annex Home Place."
The agreement follows the most recent district meeting held by CCHP for property owners in the Home Place area. The meeting, similar to past informational and fund raising meetings held by the group, was to relay the status of the remonstration case and determine next steps desired by the community. Response by attendees was favorable, largely appreciation for the success of CCHP defending their interests and posing questions about what may occur following being annexed by Carmel. CCHP discussed a variety of concerns about Carmel services, infrastructure installation costs, and eminent domain processes. The group pledged to remain proactively available to the district to help assist potential changes and property owner interests if annexed. Additionally, attendees voiced concerns about the Carmel Master Plan's impacts on Home Place as well as how the district would be represented in Carmel's elected government and administration. According to Milam, Carmel has not provided information about how Carmel's City Council would incorporate the annexed area, such as a new Council seat or other means of territory representation.
"Many things have changed over the last 15 years in Carmel, including extensive redevelopment of traditional Carmel residential areas and what some consider inordinate amount of borrowing and related debt. These have been key factors motivating our remonstrance against the forced annexation and fears of being absorbed by Carmel. Unfortunately as the evidence of these concerns grew, we could not introduce those contemporary relevant facts into the case, effectively trapped in a time capsule of evidence supplied when the case was originally filed in 2004," Milam said.
Milam said while Home Place may now be facing extinction, the efforts of CCHP and the Home Place community placed forced annexation into the limelight and by doing so, helped contribute to new annexation legislation at the Statehouse. Those statutes better protect Indiana citizens from being forcibly annexed.
"That is a legacy that we can be proud of," Milam said.