Lowell maps out expansive annexation plans
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent July 12, 2011 5:38PM
Updated: October 31, 2011 1:27PM
LOWELL — Plans are under way to grow the town’s borders to entice new economic development.
Monday the town council heard from Doug Niksch, president of the town’s Redevelopment Commission and chairman of the Annexation Committee, who laid out a five-phase annexation plan that would take advantage of existing transportation infrastructure such as Interstate 65, U.S. 41 and the CSX railroad tracks, growing the town west and east past both roadways.
Officials are reviewing the town’s comprehensive plan and expected to consider moving forward with the first phase of the proposal at the next Town Council meeting.
Niksch said the RDC has been working on the plan since its inception in January 2010 to create viable opportunities for businesses that would also benefit the town.
“If businesses come to us now, there’s no place for them to go,” he said. The town proper is relatively small and is surrounded by unincorporated Lake County.
Even the town’s water wells and wastewater treatment plant are in unincorporated Lake County, forcing town officials to obtain county permits every time work is needed at one of the facilities, Wilbur Cox, community development director said.
Annexing land adjacent to and surrounding these main transportation arteries would enable the town to potentially entice a wider variety of businesses that could offer jobs with good paying salaries, create a stronger property tax base and provide revenues for future tax increment financing districts to fund more improvements, Niksch said.
He said CSX already has expressed some interest in property in the Phase 1 annexation area for a potential agricultural park.
Cox said the first phase would incorporate land south of Indiana 2 and Belshaw Road going from the western most part of town to Austin Street, from Indiana 2 south to 205th Avenue, 205th Avenue east to Clark Street and Clark Street back to Indiana 2.
The move would bring both the utilities and the new Lowell Middle School into the town along with land CSX may be interested in pursuing. The first phase land also already has the majority of infrastructure in place, which would speed the annexation process.
Phase 2 would incorporate land from Austin Street west past U.S. 41, south to 205th Avenue and north to 173rd Avenue. Phase 3 would be implemented northwest of town from 173rd Avenue north to 155th Avenue, west of U.S. 41 to Morse Street. Phase 4 would include everything east of the town from Holtz Road to Indiana 55 and north to 173rd. The final phase would start north of Indiana 2 and take the town about one mile east of Interstate 65. It would also bring the southern boundary of the town out to 197th Avenue, Cox said.
“This would be over a long period of time. It’s an annexation plan to look into the future,” Cox said. “You can’t sit still and expect to survive forever.”