After 12 years, the City of Carmel has finally reached a deal to annex Home Place, which comprises 1,017 unincorporated square acres centered at 106th Street and College Avenue.
For years, Home Place was part of Clay Township but not legally within Carmel city limits. The City of Carmel has been trying to annex the area because Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said it’s a burden on police, fire and others to not have this area in the city limits.
“We are pleased with today’s agreement with some of the residents of Home Place to move forward with the annexation of this area into the City of Carmel,” Brainard said. “I first proposed this in 1996 as a matter of efficiency in local government. Home Place is an urbanized area and should be part of the City of Carmel. We are one community with one public school system, one library system, a fire department that serves both the city and the township –everyone should be part of the community, the City of Carmel.”
Matt Milam, leader of the group Concerned Citizens for Home Place, said many Home Place residents didn’t want to be part of Carmel because of concerns about property taxes and debt, among other reasons.
At the end of October, the Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a decision to allow Carmel’s annexation of Home Place, which includes approximately 2,200 homes. The next legal step would have been for Home Place to appeal the decision to the Indiana Supreme Court. Home Place residents met and decided to not proceed, which will allow Carmel to annex the area in January 2018.
“We have successfully protected our district and its property owners from the forced annexation of Carmel for nearly 15 years,” Milam stated. “Regrettably, our legal efforts and options have run their course resulting in court decisions favoring Carmel.”
Milam said that Carmel has not provided information about how the city council would incorporate Home Place, such as through a new council seat or other means of territory representation. As a result of becoming a second class city, Carmel will add two members to the council in 2019 for a total of nine members. One city councilor would run at large, and there would be a new city council district, which will likely cause the council map to be redrawn. Some in Home Place have wondered if the area would have its own district or be split among other newly drawn district lines.
Statement from the mayor
Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard released the following statement after Home Place officials announced they would not continue to fight annexation by the City of Carmel:
“We are pleased with today’s agreement with some of the residents of Home Place to move forward with the annexation of this area into the City of Carmel.
I first proposed this in 1996 as a matter of efficiency in local government. Home Place is an urbanized area and should be part of the City of Carmel. We are one community with one public school system, one library system, a fire department that serves both the city and the township –everyone should be part of the community, the City of Carmel.
It is very inefficient to serve just a two square mile area. Hamilton County officials have been supportive in the decision to annex the area because they recognize how much it costs to serve Home Place. Even though the county does a good job of providing basic services, Carmel can do it for less money because the city totally surrounds Home Place.
Carmel spends a great deal of money providing services such as economic development. This helps everyone within the public school district because it helps hold down taxes; however, Carmel residents are paying for all of it. Additionally, Home Place residents are tremendously impacted by Carmel’s policy and decisions and they should be allowed to vote for those officials.
We recognize that some have expressed concern about their local tax rates going up. While that is true that property owners will be paying City taxes beginning with the January 1, 2018, assessment, they should also know that Carmel has one of the lowest city tax rates in Indiana.
Home Place is an area in need of assistance that only Carmel can provide. Hamilton County, for example, does not have a code enforcement agency and as a result there are many absentee landlords that are offering substandard housing. Carmel has housing and code enforcement inspectors and does not allow houses to be in a rundown condition, grass not to be cut, cars on blocks etc. While only a portion of Home Place has these problems it is a serious problem and I don’t want it to spread.
I have personally heard from many property owners in Home Place that they have been in favor of annexation. They understand and we believe that property owners in Home Place will benefit from annexation.
There are many areas of Home Place that are beautiful and well kept. But we also acknowledge that there are some concerned that without annexation and the added city services that come with it, their property values could eventually depreciate, impacting years of savings. Most people’s houses are their biggest investment and I do not want to see values destroyed and I am concerned the blight on some of the streets will spread. The absentee landlords need to be held to higher standards and county government, meant for rural areas, is not equipped with the manpower to do that.”