Residents File Petition in Hamilton County to Create Geist Conservancy District

Media Contact: Tom Britt, 317-496-3599 tom@townepost.com

Proposed Special Taxing District Will Have the Most Freeholders of Any Conservancy District in the State of Indiana.

November 22, 2019 – Fishers, IN – Organizers representing freeholders from 40 neighborhoods around Geist Reservoir submitted a petition for the establishment of the Geist Conservancy. District to the Hamilton County Superior Court today accompanied by over 1,400 freehold signatures, more than double the state requirement. With this filing, the process of forming a new conservancy district to fund maintenance and repairs for the recreational use of Geist Reservoir officially begins. Under the Indiana Conservancy Act (IC 14-33), freeholders can organize a special taxing district to solve specific local issues related to water resources management, including managing bodies of water used for recreation.

“A conservancy district gives the neighborhoods and businesses adjacent to Geist Reservoir the voice, funding, and resources to restore our 75-year-old reservoir,” said Cory Peter with the Geist Conservancy District Steering Committee. “We are working with Citizens Energy, the owner of the reservoir, to preserve our area’s most precious resource, protect our property values and ensure that Geist is usable as a recreational lake for decades to come.”

For the past 19 years, the Geist Lake Coalition, an Indiana nonprofit corporation staffed by a group of local volunteers, has been tackling the seasonal issues on Geist Reservoir by collecting donations from residents to treat blue green algae blooms and invasive Eurasian water milfoil. Meanwhile, larger issues lie beneath the surface and upstream in the Upper Fall Creek Watershed that require more studies, longer-term planning, and of course, funding.

“Once formed, the Geist Conservancy District will be able to hire a full-time reservoir manager that will be supervised by elected representatives from within the district,” said Brian Hall,President of the Geist Lake Coalition. “A conservancy district gives us a fair, equitable, and sustainable revenue model to tackle the issues we face today and in the future.”

The proposed Geist Conservancy District will encompass approximately 3,900 unique freeholds — homes and businesses in Hamilton, Marion and Hancock Counties. Funding will come from two sources – a special benefits assessment on properties in the district and daily and annual passes for those boating on the reservoir. The newly formed Geist Conservancy District will also be eligible to apply for state and federal grant funding.

“Now that we’ve filed the petition, the court will verify the petition and then refer the petition to the Natural Resources Commission, which will evaluate the necessity and feasibility of the proposed district,” said Matthew Troyer, attorney with Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP representing the Geist Lake Coalition. “Residents and other reservoir stakeholders will have an opportunity to ask their questions and voice their concerns over the coming months in public hearings conducted by the Natural Resources Commission.”

Organizers will mail out a notice to all affected freeholders at least 30 days in advance of the court’s hearing to verify the petition bears the necessary signatures and complies with the requirements as to form and content.

“The overall process to create the district is expected to take between twelve (12) and twenty-four (24) months,” added Troyer.

About the Geist Lake Coalition
The Geist Lake Coalition is an Indiana nonprofit corporation formed in 2000 with the mission of addressing and upholding the longevity of Geist Reservoir. Since their early days, the all-volunteer group have been the stewards of Geist Reservoir organizing clean-up days, educating people within the watershed of fertilizer best practices, and tackling invasive Eurasian milfoil and aquatic weeds. For more information, visit GeistLakeCoalition.org.

About the Geist Conservancy District
Organized as a subcommittee of the Geist Lake Coalition, the Geist Conservancy District encompasses approximately 3,900 freeholders in 40 neighborhoods that surround Geist Reservoir. Over the past few years, organizers have been educating residents within the proposed district of the costs and benefits of creating a special benefits taxing district. Under the Indiana Conservancy Act (IC 14-33), organizers were required to obtain the signatures of at least 15% of the stakeholders within the proposed district – they obtained more than double the requirement. For more information, visit GeistConservancy.com.