WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - West Lafayette officials are making plans to expand. Later this year, they hope to annex a large piece of territory where the new U.S. 231 is being built that would roughly double the city's area.
For now, the construction is outside West Lafayette city limits, but Mayor John Dennis hopes that all changes by the time it's ready to open.
"When it's finished, that will be another gateway to our community," Dennis said.
A community with about 30,000 residents on less than 8 square miles means a density of almost 3,900 people per square mile.
Dennis said it's the most dense city in Indiana and the 27th most dense in the country. He said the city currently has to turn some developers away because there's just no room.
"That to me says it's time to grow," Dennis added.
Dennis said the proposed annex would add mostly fields and woods along with roughly 7,000 residents including in Pine View Farms. For those residents, annexing means a trade-off -- higher taxes for more services like city fire protection, trash pick-up and street clearing services. Instead of Tippecanoe County sheriff's deputies responding, police officers would.
"That would be great to get some more services, police, fire would be better out there. Trash would be better too," said Pine View Farms resident Gordon Weliky.
Weliky said he would be willing to pay a little extra.
"I think so," he said. "I think the perks would definitely outweigh the tax increase."
One thing that wouldn't change are school districts, which are drawn independent of city boundaries.
But what happens with Purdue University is still up in the air. Because the land is owned by the state, it may matter little.
"The dialogues are going very well, but they are just right now dialogue," Dennis said.
As for a timeline, Dennis said he hopes to notify property owners this spring. If everything goes smoothly, the annexation could be complete by the summer.
Dennis said no immediate infrastructure projects would be needed. While he anticipates city jobs would be created, he's unsure how many or in what departments.
But with developers already interested, "Things here are going to change here rapidly with 231 and we would like to have a strong voice in that change," he said.
He said the time to act is now.
"We feel the 231 corridor could be a very welcoming gateway to our community and into Purdue University and that's why we're focusing there," he added.
More specifics as far as tax and personnel increases will be known later.
Adding 7,000 residents would put West Lafayette in a larger city classification which means, among other things, the mayor would no longer chair Common Council meetings and the clerk would be an appointed position, not an elected one.
Dennis said annexing may not be over. The city may also explore adding land to the north and straightening out boundaries to the east along River Road in the next year or two.
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