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Annexed areas see minor changes for now

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Greenwood police officers will watch for speeding cars on 7 more miles of streets, and the fire department is ready to respond to any fires or medical emergencies at 13 more houses.

Those changes came when 1,808 acres around Interstate 65 officially became part of the city. Nearly 200 residents and 58 homes came into the city, along with farm acreage.

Right now, the land is primarily homes and farm fields. But in the future, once a new interstate exit is built, the city views the area as prime land for development. Officials wanted to annex the land so the city could guide how it is developed.

For now, that means the city is newly responsible for patrolling the streets, picking up trash, responding to emergencies and repairing roads in a 3.2-square-mile area.

With few people living in the area now, the added land doesn’t require much from the city. Police added the area into their eastern district, meaning officers will regularly patrol the streets. The city will include the annexed homes in the trash collection route if residents ask to be added. And officials plan to look at the roads to see where repairs and patches for potholes may be needed. Residents of the area also can now campaign for elected positions in the city, such as mayor and city council member, and vote in Greenwood elections.

Most changes, though, will happen in the future. The city annexed the land where the state plans to build a new interstate exit at Worthsville Road because it is investing millions of dollars toward the interchange and to widen a section of Worthsville Road to four lanes. The city wants to guide development in the area, encouraging builders to construct high-end restaurants, offices and homes, as well as a possible recreational lake.

As offices, restaurants and more homes are built, more services will be needed. The city already plans to build a fire station to serve the area, but Fire Chief James Sipes doesn’t know when that will happen.

“Development really helps determine that,” he said.

As the area grows, Greenwood will consider adding parks and hiring more police officers and firefighters. The city will provide sewer service to new developments, and residents eventually will be able to pay to get hooked up to the city sewer system.

The switch from primarily Johnson County Sheriff’s Office police protection to regular patrols by city police officers and more city fire protection are among immediate changes brought with the annexation, which took effect April 2.

The fire department already provided emergency services to most of the area through a contract with Pleasant Township. Greenwood firefighters will now take care of that area as part of the city and will be responsible for 13 more homes. The houses previously were in the Whiteland fire district.

Other changes include newly available city trash collection and a new place to call about potholes or cracks in the road. The city street department, rather than the county highway department, will repair streets in the area and take the calls about roads that need fixing. The new Greenwood residents must call the city to request trash pickup, if they want it, controller Adam Stone said. No one asked for it this week, he said.

Greenwood is preparing for the anticipated development and will work to expand its eastside tax-increment financing district or create a new TIF district there, city planning director Bill Peeples said. TIF districts capture property tax money from new development in a specific geographic area to be spent on projects to promote economic development, such as roads and other infrastructure work.

The city isn’t marketing land in the annexation area to potential developers and expects buildings to go up around the interchange regardless of the city’s efforts. By annexing the land, the city can require specific development standards, by, for example, limiting building heights or requiring brick exteriors. Greenwood hasn’t set those standards yet but likely will develop them by the end of the year, Peeples said. High-end development likely will happen over the next 20 years or so, officials have said.

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