2007-02-24 / News

Union Township loses 135 acres to Granville

By Scott Rawdon

NEWARK- Some residents of Union Township are very likely soon to be residents of Granville. The Licking County Commissioners unanimously approved the annexation of more than 514 acres of land - 135 acres of which is in Union Township - into the Village of Granville. There is a 30 day waiting period for appeals and the annexation must be approved by the Granville Village Council before it's official.

Tuesday morning, all three commissioners said they believed the benefits to the residents who requested the annexation outweighed any negative aspects, and the territory--whose shape Commissioner Tim Bubb described as "gangly"--was not unreasonably large. "It's clear that a majority of residents approve (of the annexation)," he said.

Commissioner Marcia Phelps said that Granville Village gave an excellent public presentation touting the annexation, and she was impressed that both Granville and Union townships studied and supported the annexation. Typically, townships oppose annexations because they are losing territory to a municipality. Phelps said she understood that some people in Newark opposed the annexation. "I can see both sides of the arguement," she said, "But I will support the annexation."

Most annexations are driven by developers who want utility access to township property, said Commissioner Doug Smith. "This was vastly different. The residents wanted it to keep things the way they are," he said. Newark officials who opposed the annexation stated their case very well, said Smith, but ultimately, "It was obvious the residents really wanted to see this fly."

Granville Mayor Melissa Hartfield said life for Union Township residents annexed into Granville won't change too much. They will have Granville's police service, but fireand emergency service will remain the same. Road plowing and maintenance will also remain much as it is today. Granville Village will cooperate with existing services. "It really doesn't make much sense for us to run a plow all the way out there when plows are already there," she said. Granville's public water and sewer service will be available to the territory annexed into the village, but only if requested.

Newark Mayor Bruce Bain is "disappointed but not surprised" by the decision. "I wish to thank the commissioners allowing Newark to at least have a voice in the matter," he said. "They didn't have to do that." He believes the annexation will hamper Newark's desire to sell public water outside of its borders, but the city will just have to work around the annexed territory, he said.

"We hate to lose the property," said Union Township Trustee Jack Justice, but all the people within the Union Township territory to be annexed favored the annexation. "It would be hard to turn it down," he said.

Justice expected the county would approve the annexation and understood why the affected Union Township residents would rather be in Granville than Newark. "Newark was selling a product nobody wanted to buy," said Justice.

In other Union Township news:

+ The trustees, during Monday night's Union Township Trustees' meeting, passed a resolution to request of the county to approve a weight reduction for Beaver Run and Refugee roads within Union Township. The trustees want a 50 percent weight reduction on those roads to discourage heavy truck traffic. Wednesday, Justice said he was confidentthe request would be approved. "We're going to order the signs," he said.

+ The trustees also requested a speed limit reduction on the Union Township portion of Beaver Run Road. Currently, the speed limit is 55 miles per hour. The trustees hope to reduce it to 35, but the final decision rests with ODOT, which will conduct a traffic study. "We really don't have any say in the matter," said Justice, but it doesn't hurt to ask. "They're not going to raise it to 65."

He said that Licking County Engineer Tim Lollo was fairly confident that ODOT would agree to reduce the speed on Beaver Run's western portion between Ohio 37 and Canyon Road, but he wasn't so sure if ODOT would agree to do so on Beaver Run's other end, between Canyon Road and Thornwood Drive.

+ Monday night, the trustees discussed the township's policy on replacing mailboxes knocked over by snow plows. Justice said that the township will replace those mailboxes--with a "like product"--which are destroyed by direct contact with a plow. The township will not replace mailboxes knocked over by the weight of flying snow or slush. "We've had that policy forever," he said.

+ Trustee Jessie Ours said Monday night that recent changes in the public record laws require the township to appoint a public records commission. Trustee President John Slater said that under the new laws, the trustees may request the identity of the person requesting information and the intent of the request. "We couldn't do that in the past," he said.

+ Monday night, the trustees discussed changes in employee wages during executive session, but the trustees took no action after returning from executive session.

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