The Ohio Supreme Court will be asked to decide whether the city of Xenia will be allowed to annex land connected to Central State University.
Greene County commissioners voted Tuesday to appeal the ruling by the Ohio Second Appellate District Court of Appeals that compelled commissioners to approve the city of Xenia’s petition to annex Central State University.
Greene County Prosecutor Stephen Haller is representing the county in the case. The county will request a stay of the second district division while the case is pending in the state’s highest court, according to a statement released by Haller and County Administrator Brandon Huddleson.
“The appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court will address, among other issues, the contiguity requirement of an expedited type 2 annexation,” the statement reads. “The board is of the opinion that the decision by the court of appeals helps create a balloon on a string contrary to legal precedent and the intent of the legislature.”
The second district appellate court “was absolutely correct in their interpretation and application of state law,” Xenia City Manager Brent Merriman said in a prepared statement.
“To fight this decision is essentially saying that the city cannot annex its own, contiguous property into the city,” Merriman’s statement reads. “There has been an attempt to make this annexation about Central State University, and it is not. The petition in question is for annexation of city-owned property, and making the matter a referendum on future annexations is inappropriate and not legally defensible.”
The city owns roughly 41 of the 45 acres of the land sought to be annexed along the Ohio to Erie Trail, which stretches about four miles north of the city limits to the CSU campus.
The city’s petition is for a type 2 annexation, which requires 5% of the land to be annexed to be contiguous with the city’s border. The city’s petition spells out the numbers involved, showing the land to be sought is just over 5% contiguous with the city’s border.
The contiguity requirement was one of the main points challenged by the county, according to the second appellate court’s records.
The county argued because the city intends to do more annexations which are contingent on this one being approved, the actual land sought to be annexed is nearly 160 acres, which would put the city outside the contiguity requirement, according to court records.
Xenia Law Director Donnette Fischer argued there is only one petition for annexation up for consideration and the city has met all the requirements as spelled out for type 2 annexations under Ohio law.
Commissioners Bob Glaser and Dick Gould voted in favor of appealing the case to the state’s highest court. Commission President Tom Koogler was absent from the meeting.
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