2007-02-03 / News

Union Township Trustees don't oppose annexation

By Scott Rawdon

GRANVILLE - Un i o n Township Trustees said they don't oppose the annexation of more than 514 acres of land - 135 acres of which is in Union Township - into the Village of Granville.

"Union Township is aware of the unity of people in the annexed area. The trustees offer no opposition to the annexation," said Union Township Trustee President John Slater during a fivehour marathon public hearing at Granville High School Jan. 17. The trustees and Union Township Police Chief Paula Green were subpoenaed to the hearing, which included the Licking County Commissioners and representatives from Granville village and township, and Union Township. The trustees said previously that all of the Union Township landowners who would be annexed into Granville Village if the annexation takes place are in favor of the annexation.

Wanda Carter, an attorney representing Granville village and township, said there is very little opposition from landowners within the overall territory to be annexed. "The owners wishes should carry a lot of weight," she said. For an annexation to be approved, several specific criteria need to be met. Pleasing Newark, she said, is not one of them. However, Newark is not pleased.

Newark Mayor Bruce Bain told the commissioners the annexation would damage the city's plans to sell public water beyond its borders without annexing territory. "Newark citizens feel hurt," he said, insisting the annexation would negatively affect Newark. Bain said there is no formal policy in place to extend water lines beyond Newark's borders, but the possibility of doing so has been discussed "off and on for many years."

After the hearing, Bain explained, "Before I became mayor, the last administration came close to reaching a final agreement with Hanover...My administration has been seriously discussing (water extension) for the past six months. That doesn't mean we will change the current policy of not selling water to land that can be annexed." He said Newark will maintain that policy for annexable land that is suitable for business and industry, or mixed usage, particularly north of Newark--such as Newark Township--and "far east" of Newark. "However, in areas that we feel aren't suitable, or we feel they will never come into the City of Newark, we want to become water providers."

Bain said previously that he believes part of the motivation behind the annexation is residents' desire to stop Newark from creating a water tower at an approximately 1.5 acre plot on the "McMillen land" in Union Township. The water tower would serve Newark's west side including the Park Trails and Park Ridge subdivisions on River Road, south of Granville. Currently, the subdivisions have inadequate water pressure. Creating the tower at the McMillen site will require Newark to place eight feet of water line through the annexed territory. Originally, Granville officials offered Newark the eight foot easement if Newark officials agreed not to oppose the 514 acre annexation. The Newark City Council initially agreed, but then withdrew its support, its members saying they would not be silenced by the annexation agreement.

Granville Village Planner Chris Strayer said during the Jan. 17 hearing the Granville Village Council gave Granville Administrator Don Holycross permission to negotiate with Newark to allow the eight feet easement so Newark can build the water tower at the McMillen site.

After the Jan. 17 meeting, Bain said the eight feet easement is a done deal, "Granville has agreed to allow the pipe to go into place," he said. "I'm very satisfied and thankful to the Granville Village officials."

Bain added, "The water tower will be constructed on Union Township land." He said he finds it interesting that most of the residents asking to be annexed wanted to prevent the water tower from being erected. "That issue is now no longer a valid reason for the annexation."

Licking County Commissioner Marcia Phelps said Monday that the commissioners concluded, on the advice of the Licking County Prosecutors Office,that they do not need to continue the Jan. 17 hearing, which was a possibility. "Therefore, I made the motion to close the hearing and we set Feb. 20 at 9:30 (a.m.) as the time to bring forth a resolution to consider the annexation," she said. The commissioners have the option to deliberate the testimony at regular commissioner meetings for the next four Thursdays, Jan. 25, Feb. 1, 8, and 15. "However, we are only going to discuss it if we need to during those Thursday regular meetings," said Phelps.

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