XENIA — City, county and university officials reacted Friday to the Ohio Supreme Court’s approval of the City of Xenia’s plan to annex land located between the city and Central State University.
The first steps into the annexation process began nearly three years ago. In September 2017, the city petitioned to annex 45.6 acres of land in Xenia Township — including 41.1 acres of city-owned land along the Ohio to Erie Bike Trail and a 4.5 acre parcel of 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.
Greene County Board of Commissioners considered seven criteria and ultimately denied the petition that November.
The Second District Court of Appeals 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 board opined that the annexation would create a “‘balloon on a string’ contrary to legal precedent and the intent of the legislature.”
“Conclusion: For the foregoing reasons, we affirm the judgment of the court appeals,” the court’s slip opinion states, signed by the chief justice and all six justices.
Xenia City Manager Brent Merriman said the city was pleased with the higher court’s decision.
“The city-owned land at issue should be part of the City of Xenia and the city has met the statutory requirements for an expedited type-II annexation as affirmed by the supreme court,” he wrote in an email to the Gazette. “This annexation merely incorporates property primarily owned by the city already.”
County Administrator Brandon Huddleson had a different reaction to the ruling.
“The commissioners reviewed the original annexation petition and simply felt that it did not meet the criteria for approval. They did not believe the state legislature was in favor of string annexation when they wrote the law,” he said by email. “Yesterday’s decision by the supreme court makes it apparent that boards of county commissioners have no say when presented with an expedited type-2 annexation petition, they are simply expected to approve it.”
According to Merriman, any additional annexation that might include CSU will be considered in the future.
“We are collaborative partners with the Greene County commission as well as Central State University, and we look forward to working closely together on issues with both institutions into the future,” he added.
In a statement, CSU President Dr. Cynthia Jackson-Hammond called the decision “encouraging” for the university’s vision to expand within the city.
“The expansion promotes the mission of a land grant institution which is guided by the principle of enhancing the quality of life for the citizens of Greene County and other Ohio counties,” she said. “Central State and the city of Xenia are finally able to formally collaborate, grow and become stronger partners for social, economic and community development.”
CSU Trustee Chairman Mark Hatcher added: “In addition to strengthening our relationship with the city of Xenia, we will experience significant utility and support service cost savings that will allow us to provide increased support to our students.”
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