City accepts township land annexation

By Scott Halasz - [email protected]

XENIA — The annexation of a parcel of land between Central State University and the City of Xenia that made it all the way to the Ohio Supreme Court was accepted by city council Sept. 24.

The annexation of the 45.637 acres will become effective Saturday, Oct. 24, connecting CSU to Xenia and paving the way for the city to annex the entire university in the future. Last week’s action brings closure to the saga that began three years ago. In September 2017, the city petitioned to annex the land — 41.1 acres of city-owned land along the Ohio to Erie Bike Trail and a 4.5 acre parcel of state-owned Central State land. Benefits of annexation, the city cited, would include receiving income-tax revenue from university employees, while CSU would benefit by receiving city services.

The Greene County Board of Commissioners considered seven criteria and ultimately denied the petition that November. Xenia in May 2018 appealed to the Second District Court of Appeals, which granted the city’s request for a writ of mandamus ordering the county to approve the petition. The county then appealed to the state’s supreme court. The commissioners opined that the annexation would create a “‘balloon on a string’ contrary to legal precedent and the intent of the legislature.”

The Supreme Court sided with the city and on June 25 ordered that the annexation be granted, which the county did July 9.

The annexation was accepted 5-2 with council members Cody Brannum and Levi Dean voting no.

CSU officials have expressed interest in being annexed into Xenia, but no petition has been filed yet. City Manager Brent Merriman previously said CSU could lower its operating costs and the city would have a “substantial” financial benefit if annexation took place. CSU is paying for water, sewer and fire and EMS services from Xenia. If it becomes part of the city, fire and EMS would be required services and CSU would no longer have to pay the non-resident surcharge for water.

Xenia would receive income tax from campus employees and even after losing the fire contract and water surcharge revenue, there would be a net benefit of several hundred thousand dollars, Merriman said.

If the city does move forward with the CSU partnership, Merriman said there is no plan to continue that annexation across the street, or anywhere else in the township. Many Wilberforce residents voiced those concerns and others as the annexation began its initial phases.

“They can’t be annexed if they don’t want to,” Merriman said in July. “At no point in time has the current or prior council had any conversations about any attempts at forced annexation of the Wilberforce area.”

By Scott Halasz

[email protected]

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.