XENIA — The City of Xenia will proceed with the annexation of Central State University.
Xenia City Council voted 5-0 Aug. 24 to pass a resolution authorizing a petition to annex 40.931 acres in Xenia Township, owned by the city. The parcel is part of the Ohio to Erie Bike Trail and will connect the city to Central State, which is required by law.
Once that is approved by the county board of commissioners, the city will pursue annexation of the campus, 159 acres in all, which will be done with subsequent petitions.
The request has been met with some opposition. Several Wilberforce residents via social media have said the annexation is unfair to CSU employees, about half of whom will have to pay city income taxes for the first time. Others fear that once the campus is annexed, the city will attempt to annex Wilberforce as well.
Melva Newsom, president of the Wilberforce Community Property Owners and Voters Association, said she is worried that a two acre piece of land across from the main campus will be rezoned from residential to a non-residential zoning district.
“They (CSU) are determined to put a building on it,” Newsom said. “The purpose of the building keeps changing. They use the vague term economic development.”
Xenia Township previously turned down a rezoning request by CSU to construct an administration building but Newsome fears the city would allow such a request. Administrator Alan Stock was also present at the meeting, and asked the city to take more time to review the situation before voting.
Newsom also said there has been a lack of communication from the university regarding its plans.
“They’ve been basically hostile to the Wilberforce Community because we have been against annexation,” Newsom said. “They have not given anybody any information. They have not had any kinds of meetings … any kind of information shared about what they are planning for at least two or three years.”
During the meeting, Xenia City Manager Brent Merriman addressed some of those concerns.
“The city has, as we have articulated repeatedly, no interest in annexation of additional residential property out there and to do so would require their acquiescence,” he said. “So as long as they don’t want to be annexed, it really is a moot point.”
He also disagreed that the city has not explored partnerships with CSU in the past.
“It was also suggested that there’s been little effort over the past 100 years to work in partnership and I would offer a different opinion,” he said. “The city has provided water and sewer services for over 40 years. The city has engaged in conversation dating back 10, 15 years about the concept of annexation, concept of JEDD (joint economic development district), concepts of how service delivery could be improved. So we have, maybe not 100 years ago engaged in a close partnership, but certainly in recent decades and with increasing veracity we have attempted to grow closer in our partnership for the mutual sustainability for both the community and the institution.”
Council member Dale Louderback and Mayor Marsha Bayless were absent from Thursday’s meeting.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.