MC Commissioners testify before Ohio Senate’s Select Committee on annexation


LIMA — The Miami County Commissioners provided testimony to the Ohio Senate’s Select Committee on housing regarding annexation in Lima on Monday, Dec. 11.

Annexation is the expansion of municipal territory through the addition of unincorporated territory (and occasionally, incorporated territory), typically upon petition of the landowner or landowners within that territory, according to the Ohio Legislative Service Commission.

The commissioners acknowledged annexation can be a beneficial tool when parties can work together for responsible economic development. However, they are concerned about Type 2 and Type 3 annexations, particularly in small townships in Miami County.

“Our county understands that annexation is critical for the growth of our communities, but our current annexation laws keep townships and counties out of the discussion. There is a serious need for reform,” Miami County Commissioner Wade Westfall said during his testimony Monday, according to a press release from the Miami County Commissioners.

“The most pivitol issue our county is dealing with that will alter the face of Miami County in future decades is annexation from communities in Montgomery County. Look at Bethel Township. Annexation has fundamentaly changed the community and school district. Right now, there are large commercial and industrial developments literally right across from Monroe Township,” Miami County Commissioner Ted Mercer said during his testimony Monday, according to the release.

“We are always willing to consider the use of economic tools authorized by the state. Of which annexation can be one. However, annexations that don’t require the input and authorization by the county and townships on behalf of Miami County residents is unexceptable,” Miami County Commissioner Greg Simmons said during his testimony Monday, according to the release.

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.

Westfall expressed frustration during that Novemeber 2022 meeting for having to vote for the measure.

“I am extremely disappointed to have to cast a vote today on this issue. We are compelled by the courts to have to approve of this annexation even though the commission and even the courts recognize the potential financial burden this measure will not only put on Bethel Township, its school system, but the entire county. This commission will work diligently with other counties and our state legislatures to advocate for change in our annexation laws to make sure future annexations are fair and equitable for both landowners, communities, and our residents,” Westfall said during the Novemeber 2022 meeting.

Kama Dick, newly elected Bethel Township Trustee Seat shares concern about annexation. She said, when asked by Miami Valley Today prior to the November election, annexation is the biggest challenge Bethel Township is facing moving forward.

“I have been fighting for 30 years for our right to protect and preserve our township and our rural way of life. I have been involved in three referendums in recent years and also have worked to stop inappropriate development. I do not want to see all of our townships become residential lots. Huber Heights has taken our land and, in a very short time, built enough houses to last us a lifetime, bombarding our school with new students, stretching our road infrastructure to its limits, and destroying our country lifestyle,” Dick said.

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