Bethel Township makes Huber Heights flinch


By William Lutz

Guest columnist

Back in late May, this newsletter went in depth about a bold move made by the Bethel Township Trustees. They were willing to give up some prime agricultural land south of U.S. Route 40, between state Routes 201 and 202, for annexation and future real estate development. In return, they asked for a 50-year agreement, a pact that would last until 2073, that would prevent any further large scale annexations.

You can read more about the agreement here: Can Bethel Township have peace for their time?

This agreement seemed like a win-win situation. In the short-term, Huber Heights had a 260-acre annexation in their back pocket and smaller annexations could have followed. The township, looking at the long game, would secure no more larger annexations for the next five decades.

Palace Intrigue on Chambersburg Road

However, things took an unexpected turn at the June 26 meeting of the Huber Heights City Council. The annexation agreement and the legislative acceptance of the 260-acre annexation were not on the agenda. So what happened?

Well, it turns out there are divisions within the Huber Heights City Council, and they became apparent during the late June meeting. The Mayor had instructed city staff to work with Bethel Township on the annexation agreement, believing he had the support of the majority of council members. However, one council member expressed serious doubts only after Bethel Township had approved the agreement. The Mayor felt blindsided, as this council member had never raised concerns directly with him.

What happens the next?

For now, it seems that the 260-acre annexation, which has been the subject of numerous media reports and even a lawsuit, is off the table. The City of Huber Heights had a deadline to formally accept the annexation after it was “approved” by the Miami County Board of Commissioners. Since that deadline passed without any formal acceptance, the annexation is no longer on the table. The applicants are free to reapply for another annexation petition and start the entire process over again.

At least for the moment, it seems like the Bethel Township Trustees have won this annexation battle. However, given market forces, it’s likely that another annexation petition will be filed sooner rather than later.

What does this mean for Miami County?

This particular lines in the Dayton Daily News article really caught my attention: “He (the mayor) further claimed the agreement proposal had included stipulations that (council member) Kitchen herself had requested, including that water and sewer services for the annexed land in question be handled by Bethel Township.”

For residents of Miami County, one of the most concerning aspects of this situation is that the council member who stopped the agreement is pushing for water and sewer services in the annexed land to be provided by Bethel Township, not Huber Heights. This has significant implications for the county.

Many parts of the southern tier of Bethel Township currently receive water and sewer services provided by the Miami County Commissioners. The county established these services back in the late 1990s, initially for the hamlet of Brandt and other areas in the township. Over time, the system expanded to provide water to Phoneton and sewer services throughout the southern tier of the township.

The idea behind providing these services was to discourage landowners from annexing their land to Huber Heights. However, it now seems that the reverse holds true as well. When a city begins the process of accepting an annexation, it creates a “statement of services” outlining what services the city or village will provide to the annexed lands. In this case, the city of Huber Heights could argue that it doesn’t need to provide water and sewer services since they are already provided by the county commissioners.

The problem is that if any future land is annexed into Huber Heights, the city will have complete control over the zoning and subdivision of the annexed lands, without the burden of providing water and sewer infrastructure. The Miami County Commissioners will then be responsible for providing these services without having the ability to make decisions on the density of the annexed lands; fewer houses need less infrastructure which means less cost.

There is no doubt that this will have significant financial and implications for the county and county taxpayers.

The writer is the president of Troy City Council and creator of the Civic Capacity newsletter. Civic Capacity is available at

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