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Expanding horizons: Greenwood plans city's growth with trio of annexations

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Greenwood is looking at annexing more land, including where a new Interstate 65 interchange is planned.

The city is planning three annexations that would extend its borders to the southeast, smooth out its edges to the south and take in a Center Grove area neighborhood where residents have asked to be annexed.

In total, the city plans to annex at least 2,000 acres, planning director Ed Ferguson said. The city also is taking the first steps needed to be able to annex more land in the Center Grove area, west of the city, in the future.

A few hundred newly annexed residents would have to pay city property taxes and would get city services, such as police protection. They could vote in city elections and would have to follow city rules.

Greenwood is focusing on growing to the east and the southeast, but the city also plans to annex the Shepherds Grove neighborhood just west of city limits in White River Township. Residents in that community of duplexes have signed petitions asking to become part of the city because they’re tired of uncertainty and don’t want to become part of a new town of Center Grove.

A few neighboring property owners near Smith Valley Road and State Road 135 also asked to be included in that annexation, city council member Mike Campbell said.

That annexation can’t happen until Greenwood first expands its planning area, where the city plans out what gets built where and how land can be used, Ferguson said. The city is planning to extend the borders of that planning area west to the railroad tracks and between County Line and Stones Crossing roads in the Center Grove area, Ferguson said.

Most of the area that Greenwood plans to annex to the southeast is farmland near the future I-65 exit at Worthsville Road, Ferguson said. Greenwood plans to use local property tax dollars to pay for half of the $22 million expected cost of the new interchange.

Greenwood has invested heavily in the future development of that area, where it’s planning a stretch of an east-west corridor, Ferguson said. The city plans to spend another $19 million to widen Worthsville Road between I-65 and U.S. 31.

The city already has spent at least $16 million to extend sewers to that area to get it ready for development, Ferguson said.

He said the city hopes to annex the land to have a say over what gets built in the area. Much of the city’s long-term growth is expected to happen on the east side and particularly around the new interchange.

Mayor Mark Myers has said he’d like to see offices, high-tech manufacturing and other high-end businesses around the new exit. He and other city officials have said they don’t want to see truck stops, gas stations or car washes clustered around the exit.

Ferguson said annexing the land will allow Greenwood to control what development takes place around the exit.

The city is proposing to annex about 1,900 acres of land east of I-65 out to County Road 325E, Ferguson said. The city would annex land south of Allen Road and north of County Road 600N, roughly between the Precedent South Business Center and Kelsay Farms.

About 125 property owners have land in the annexed area, Ferguson said. Most own farms, but a few live in rural homes.

No businesses would be annexed, Ferguson said.

The city plans to waive city property taxes for 10 years for any owners of agricultural land who sign papers agreeing to be annexed, he said.

Greenwood also will annex three small farms as part of a separate annexation of unincorporated pockets on the south side of the city, Ferguson said.

In most cases, the areas are bordered by the city on most sides. Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox said such areas can cause confusion because they’re nearly in the city but the county is responsible for providing services. Dispatchers can have a hard time sorting out which police department to send to those areas, he said.

The city annexed 30 unincorporated islands in 2008 but missed a few on the south side of the city, Ferguson said. City planners noticed the oversight while planning the Worthsville Road interchange annexation and decided the city should clean up its borders, he said.

About 13 property owners have land in those areas that would be annexed, and most live in single-family homes, Ferguson said. Three farms account for most of the 100 acres of land, and no businesses are included, he said.

City planners are preparing maps and other paperwork for both of those annexations, which would have to be approved by the Greenwood City Council after public hearings.

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