MC Commissioners, Bethel residents discuss annexation


By Eamon Baird

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TROY — The Miami County Commissioners and Bethel Township residents expressed frustration over a proposal to annex 296 acres of land from Bethel Township to Huber Heights during their meeting on Thursday, Jan. 18.

This annexation plan was filed by Jill Stemen Tengeman, agent, on behalf of property owners GLJ Holding Co.; Gary Lavy; and Carol Marchelletto.

In November of 2022, the Miami County Commissioners were court-ordered to approve an annexation of 260 acres of land in Bethel Township to Huber Heights for the Carriage Trail housing development. Approval for the annexation was filed on behalf of Raymond and Kriss Haren, Gary Lavy, Barton Gessaman and Michael Stafford. During that meeting, it was shared that the application for annexation met the requirements for the approval by the Miami County Engineer.

However, in May of 2023, Huber Heights Mayor Jeff Gore, citing the conflict among City Council members, decided not to bring this issue to a vote.

Jeff Morford, of Bethel Township, who has attended multiple commission meetings to oppose these proposed annexations, spoke to the commissioners during the meeting.

“Here we go again. As has been discussed before, last year after the mayor of Huber Heights was uncertain the vote of the council would be in favor of annexation. He didn’t allow the vote to take place. Now, that three new Huber Heights City Council members are in place. Now, Jan. 16, 2024, The wheels are in motion again,” Morford said.

“I have stated before that the landowners and developers, including Huber Heights, have invested hundreds of hours and millions of dollars to support their efforts to annex Bethel Township property and build a high-density housing development against our zoning and lifestyle. I am again requesting that this office authorize to support and match efforts to stop unwanted annexation financially,” Morford continued.

Bethel Township Trustee Beth Van Haaren also spoke to the commissioners, challenging the proposed annexation.

“I am obviously very opposed to this annexation. I’m very appreciative of all the efforts that commissioners have given the whole township in the past. And I know you will do everything within your power to continue to oppose this,” van Haaren said.

Commissioner Wade Westfall, who provided testimony to the Select Committee on Housing in December on annexation, stated his frustration with this proposal during the meeting.

“I would like to see us as a commission seek additional legal counsel in cooperation in collaboration with the Bethel township trustees to see if there’s anything legally we can do from that standpoint,” Westfall said.

Commissioner Ted Mercer agreed the annexation was unfair and suggested the commission might seek additional legal counsel moving forward.

“We’re just as frustrated as you are, and we’re limited to what our authority is,” Mercer said.

Commissioner Greg Simmons assured the public the only measure the commissioners were making was to say they received the petition.

“We’re not acting on it in any way, shape, or form until we read it. But I think according to the Ohio Revised Code, we have to accept that we received the invitation, and that’s all,” Simmons said.

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