Xenia City Council voted tonight to move forward with a petition to annex approximately 41 acres along the Ohio to Erie Trail, which connects the city to Central State University.
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With five council members present, they voted 5-0 to approve the petition Greene County Board of Commissioners for a type II annexation.
Mayor Marsha Bayless and Councilman Dale Louderback were absent from the meeting.
This is the first of three phases of a plan by the city of Xenia to annex 159 acres of the CSU campus.
Prior to the vote, Xenia City Manager Brent Merriman responded to some of the comments from people opposing the annexation.
"The city has, as we have articulated repeatedly, no interest in annexation of additional property, residential property out there. To do so would require their acquiescence so as long as they don't want to be annexed, it really is a mute point," Merriman said.
Merriman took issue with statements that the city has not made efforts to work with and explore partnerships with CSU.
"The city has provided water and sewer services for over 40 years," Merriman said. "The city has engaged in conversations dating back 10, 15 years about the concept of annexation, the concept of JEDD, the concepts of how delivery of services could be improved. So we have, maybe not 100 years ago engaged in a close partnership, but certainly in recent decades and with increasing ferocity we have attempted to grow closer in our partnership for the mutual sustainability of growth for both the community and the institution."
Xenia Twp. Administrator Alan Stock addressed the council before the vote, imploring the members to delay the vote and take more time to review the available information.
"Just because cities and townships have different forms of governance and representing their residents, doesn't mean that they don't have common goals," Stock said.
Willie Washington, a Wilberforce resident and retired Central State Emeritus professor, also addressed the council, stating annexation is not necessary to partner with the university and doing so will "show disrespect for the founders of the university."
"Central State University has existed for more than one hundred years as an island unto itself with no outreach from Xenia," Washington said. "It is only recently that Xenia, for some reason, probably financial, sees CSU as an entity with which to partner."
The vote enables the city’s administration to file the petition with the county commission. Commissioners will then review the documentation to ensure that proper procedures were followed as outlined by Ohio law.
City leaders’ plan to file two more petitions for the CSU annexation will require additional approval from City Council. The final phase is expected to be complete in 2019.