Petition denied for land to be annexed to Huber Heights

TROY – The Miami County commissioners voted unanimously Thursday to deny a petition to annex 233 acres from Bethel Twp. to the city of Huber Heights.

The commission vote was followed by applause from township residents who spoke to commissioners before the vote.

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“We are very thrilled that the commissioners denied the annexation request. We hope that Huber Heights and the developer sees fit to withdraw the petition entirely,” said Bethel Twp. Trustee Beth van Haaren, who had asked commissioners on behalf of the trustees to deny the request.

The commissioners also heard from lawyers for the annexation on behalf of Raymond E. and Kriss T. Haren; Gary L. Lavy, trustee; and Barton W. Gessaman, executor of the Gessaman Family Fam, LLC.

Lawyer Joe Miller told commissioners the annexation was filed as an expedited type II annexation, meaning if all requirements outlined in law were met, they could not deny the request. “We meet each requirement,” Miller said. “Respectfully, I would say you have no discretion today.”

After the vote, Miller said he couldn’t comment on an appeal or any other response to the vote until speaking with his clients.

The commissioners heard from four people, including one who lives in Huber Heights, stating opposition to the annexation for various reasons. Among them was the impact of continuing development on the Bethel Local Schools and concerns about more growth on the city’s infrastructure.

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Township resident Beth Houston said following the vote that residents appreciated the commissioners “considering the quality of life and what happens in Bethel.”

The city of Huber Heights Council voted recently to approve a statement that it could provide required services to the property if the annexation eventually is approved by the city. Two members voted against that statement.

Miami County Commissioner Wade Westfall said he believes the annexation would cause “undue stress” on the Bethel schools and said there already are “massive traffic issues” on U.S. Route 40 between Brandt and Phoneton.

Commissioner Ted Mercer agreed, adding, he supported the township trustees’ opposition. “It affects a lot of people when we do something like this. I just don’t feel that some of the agreements in this annexation have been met,” he said.

Commissioner Greg Simmons said the county has invested in infrastructure for water and sewer services for the area. “The proposed annexation will hamper the county’s ability to pay down the debt incurred for these infrastructure improvements by removing an anticipated customer base from our service area. We do not feel that the proposed annexation is in the best interest of Miami County and Bethel Twp.,” he said.

The commissioners were asked to identify which code sections they found were not met by the petitioners. They cited two sections: one dealing with provision of services by the municipal corporation to which annexation is proposed and a second dealing with agreements on how roads/streets would be maintained.

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