Municipal Services

One of the things that continually comes up in response to the controversy regarding The Dunes, is the State requirement that municipalities provide utility service to annexed properties within 3 years. The parcels The Dunes is being built on, plus the next parcel south were annexed into Culver around 13 years ago. This was done when Culver Garden Court was being built. The Town is remiss in providing water and sewer to these properties. Granted, they hadn’t asked for services before and as I understand it, the south property doesn’t particularly want services, but it is an obligation the Town accepted in their annexation plan which included a fiscal plan on how to pay for the utility extensions.

The initial impetus for this annexation was to bring Culver Garden Court into Town and provide utility service to support the project. As often happens, politics entered into this. The then Clerk treasurer had just moved to the southernmost property. So the annexation was expanded to include that parcel, else she would have had to resign her position as she would no longer be a resident. Doubling down on this, Culver has annexed the property on the south side of the Masonic Cemetery and that property owner HAS requested utility service. As I understand it, Culver has sufficient utility capacity for this extension, though it will use a significant portion of the capacity reserve.

I have no issue with any of the above. But the conversations regarding the municipal obligations do cause me some concern. If those are truly an issue, there is another ticking timebomb for Culver…

Culver Investment Corp holdings

As with most of us, my life is now divided into prepandemic and post-pandemic, so I’m going to forego the research on the timeline beyond that as I talk about the property owned by Culver Investment Corp outlined in cyan and yellow on the adjacent map. (Also known locally as ‘The Beste Property’.) Prepandemic, Culver was presented with a plan for a PUD development at the Northwest corner of Town. This would take in most of the unannexed area within S.R. 17 and S.R. 10. Along with that area (72 acres), the PUD included 14.6 acres of land on the north side of S.R. 10. The majority of this land was to be residential, a continuing Town priority, with the parcel north of S.R. 10 slated to be a gas station/convenience store (area in cyan on the adjacent map). As part of that negotiation with the developer, Culver had sufficient utility capacity, but the developer would be responsible for extending utilities to serve the property. Overall, this was a positive for Culver. I didn’t have any issues with the project, though I did have a few issues with it holding up Sand Hill Farm Apartments and with the treatment of existing business, Good to Go. The property was annexed and a Planned Unit Development (PUD) rezoning was approved.

The project stalled shortly after that. No doubt the pandemic was a factor, but I suspect there were other issues as well. The Plan Commission gave the developer several extensions, but in the end, the PUD was rescinded this year (’23) and the land was rezoned back to S-1, Suburban Residential, as it was prior to the PUD. Shortly after the PUD was rescinded and the rezoning was completed, the property went on the market.

This brings me to my concern: The properties were never combined and are listed for sale individually. Culver Investment Corp is not doing any development of these properties, so the development agreement with that corporation is null and void. If the 6.7 acre parcel at the north east corner of S.R. 17 and S.R. 10 sells and is developed, Culver must run utilities to that parcel per State annexation requirements. (Culver would be unable to deny a permit for a house on that property per current zoning.) It would appear the nearest utilities at 4/10ths of a mile away… as the crow flies… There are no easement provisions to get utilities to this property. Right-of-way access would require INDOT cooperation, which can be tedious at best and require nearly a mile of utility extensions without even considering the need for a water loop.

I have not seen or heard anything about this in public meetings, but this seems to be a potentially large budget item. One potential solution, would be to de-annex the property, but I would suggest that’s not best for Culver either. Having control of that area is important. That was discussed extensively with the Comprehensive Plan Committee. (There was also extensive discussion about increasing our extra territorial boundary.) Getting together a new fiscal plan for the area would seem to be another important step. Culver can’t be completely distracted by the growth on the south side of town and ignore this 86 acre area on the north. That could come back to bite us.

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