Miami County Commissioners deny annexation to Huber Heights


By Sam Wildow

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TROY — The Miami County Commissioners unanimously denied an annexation request on Thursday that would have annexed over 230 acres in Bethel Township to the city of Huber Heights.

The request was filed by Jill Stemen Tangeman, Esq., of Columbus, on behalf of Raymond E. and Kriss T. Haren; Gary L. Lavy, Trustee; and Barton W. Gessaman, executor of the Gessaman Family Farm, LLC, requesting that certain territory located in parts of Sections 13, 19, and 20, Township 2, Range 9 in Bethel Township, Miami County, containing approximately 233.28 acres be annexed to the city of Huber Heights.

According to county records, the land does not appear to have been sold to a developer yet, but residents and commissioners anticipate more residential development in that area.

“We believe we have met the requirements for the valid petition,” Tangeman said prior to the commissioners’ vote.

Joe Miller, who also represented the applicant, went over the expedited type II annexation request prior to the commissioners’ vote, stating they believed they had met all the requirements and claiming the commissioners could not deny their request.

“You don’t have discretion. It must be approved,” Miller said, adding that he was “not belittling or even commenting on” what other people had to say during the hearing.

Some residents spoke against the annexation request, including Bethel Township Trustee Beth van Haaren, who asked the commissioners to deny the annexation request.

“We would like to respectfully request that if there is any way that you can do it that you deny this annexation petition,” van Haaren said. She said they have sewer and water services there, adding the township received grants from the Ohio EPA to provide sewer and water services.

Residents like van Haaren, and later the commissioners, spoke about anticipating a developer to construct new homes in that area, causing overcrowding to the school district and to local roads.

“We don’t need an additional 600 to 900 homes with all the traffic that goes with it, the overcrowding of our schools,” van Haaren said.

Commissioner Wade Westfall made the first motion to deny the annexation request, stating he did not believe the petitioners had met the criteria for the annexation. At the request of Miami County Chief Civil Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Chris Englert, Westfall cited RC 709.023 section C and RC 709.023 section E, subsection 7 as his reason for denying the annexation. Those sections of the Ohio Revised Code refer to what the municipal corporation (i.e., Huber Heights) would provide, buffers separating the annexed territory and the adjacent land remaining within the township, and streets or highways that would be divided or segmented by the boundary line.

Westfall spoke on what he saw as the repercussions of this type of annexation.

“It has a tremendous negative impact on the quality of life for the residents of Bethel Township and ultimately the residents of Huber Heights who reside in Miami County,” Westfall said. “This annexation in my view will cause and induce stress on an already overburdened school system.”

“It affects a lot of people when they do something like that,” commissioner Ted Mercer said. “I just don’t feel that some of the agreement in the annexation have been met.”

“We do not support the proposed annexation, and commissioner Westfall stated exactly why we don’t,” commissioner Greg Simmons said. “Should residential development take place as anticipated, there will be a negative impact on Bethel local school district in terms of class size, traffic safety, and facilities.”

Simmons also touched on the water and sewer services in that area, saying the annexation would remove a tax base for the county to pay for those improvements.

“Miami County has invested in infrastructure improvements to this area of the county to provide both water and sewer access to residents and the businesses,” Simmons said. “The proposed annexation will hamper the county’s ability to pay down debt incurred for these infrastructure improvements by removing an anticipated customer base from our service area. We do not feel that the proposed annexation is in the best interest of Miami County or Bethel Township, and we do not support the annexation.”

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