City asks court to force annexation approval

By Scott Halasz -

XENIA — The City of Xenia has asked an appeals court to overturn the county’s denial of a small part of Xenia Township late last year.

In a complaint for a writ of mandamus, the city has petitioned the second district court of appeals to compel the county to approve the annexation of 45.637 acres — including part of the Ohio to Erie Bike Trail and some state-owned property — into the city. The county board of commissioners turned down the request Nov. 2, saying all seven required criteria of the annexation were not met. Had it been approved, that would have allowed the city to move forward in its quest to annex all 650 acres of Central State University from the township.

According to the Cornell Law School, a (writ of) mandamus is an order from a court to an inferior government official ordering the government official to properly fulfill their official duties or correct an abuse of discretion.

“Xenia City Council authorized the City of Xenia to file a mandamus action in the Ohio Second District Court of Appeals related to annexation of city owned land,” spokesperson Lee Warren said in an email. “The action was taken in response to the Greene County Board of Commissioners denying the City of Xenia’s petition to annex land actually owned by the city, to the city. No further comment will be made by the city pending the outcome of the Second District Court’s decision on the merit of the action.”

The appeal claims that the board improperly had the city’s petition and documents filed with the petition reviewed by the Greene County engineer, the Greene Count Prosecutor’s Office, and the Greene County Regional Planning Commission to “determine if the petitioner had meet (siq) the requirements of the Ohio Revised Code Section 709.023.” The city claims the ORC does not grant the commissioners the authority to delegate this “statutorily mandated duty to others.”

The city also claims the board improperly held a public hearing during its review of the petition.

Leading up to the decision, the commissioners said, they reviewed documentation from both sides including the city’s petition, the township’s objection, legal responses as well as various letters.

Board members considered seven criteria to make their decision: petition was properly filed, all owners signed, annexation territory does not exceed 500 acres, 5 percent of the perimeter of the annexation territory shares a contiguous and continuous boundary with the city, no islands of unincorporated territory are surrounded by annexed territory, city has agreed to provide services, and city has agreed to assume any road maintenance problem.

Gazette staff is working to get the county’s reaction to this court filing.

By Scott Halasz

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.