VALPARAISO | Lost in Monday's emotional fervor over the rezoning of 118 acres on Evans Avenue to luxury apartments and business park was the once-a-decade realignment of the five City Council districts.
The redistricting is required in the year following completion of the U.S. census. Council President Jan Dick said he had two main goals in redrawing the lines. The first was to meet the legal requirement that no district be more than 10 percent above or below the average population of 6,300, based on the city's population of about 31,730 and five districts.
The other goal was to make sure none of the current council members were redistricted out of their own district.
"Like they do in Illinois," Dick joked. Sort of.
The redistricting map adopted by the council actually was "option 6." Dick said the first couple of options were drawn up by the city's cartographer Will Rose. The districts have to be relatively compact and the precincts have to be contiguous. After a couple more attempts, option 5 was presented to the council at the Nov. 26 council meeting.
Dick said that plan allowed for some growth in the population in districts 3 and 4 over the next 10 years, but the city attorney's office said it did not meet the 10 percent stipulation of the law. That led to the final option approved Monday.
The new boundaries moved precinct 27 from District 5 (John Bowker's) to District 2 (Tim Daly's). District 3 (Joey Larr's) lost territory that includes several yet-to-be-fully-developed subdivisions to District 4 (Mike Baird's).
An attempt also was made to increase the voting population of District 1 (Bob Taylor's), which includes 4,000 non-voting students from Valparaiso University who are included in the census, by adding the portion of precinct 32 that is within the city. The populations of the various districts now range from about 6,000 to 6,900.
Dick said the redistricting has become much harder since the county combined precincts several years ago. Precincts that used to have 500 to 700 voters, now have as many as 1,900, he said.
Dick and Councilwoman Deb Butterfield are elected at-large and are not affected by the redistricting.