Franklin trustees challenge annex bid

By Diane Smith Record-Courier staff writer Published:

Franklin Township trustees said at their meeting Tuesday that they would oppose the annexation request of the land, located at 1645 S.R. 59, on the border of the township and city. A building under construction on the property counts Marco's Pizza and a video rental store, Moovies, among its tenants.

The annexation request has been submitted to the Portage County Commissioners for approval.

Previously, trustees had said they would not oppose the annexation.

Trustee Keith Benjamin said trustees have contacted Chad Murdock of the Portage County Prosecutor's Office to determine how to proceed with blocking the annexation.

He said the trustees would cite "legal precedent" in their opposition to the annexation, but would not elaborate.

"We're trying to stop the nibbling away of our tax base," he said. "We're going to take a stand here."

The land is being developed by the Kent 59 Group and includes the plaza.

Jerry Smeltzer, vice president of the group, previously stated he did not want to annex into the city, but then agreed to because the retail center needed water.

The group asked about receiving city water earlier this year. City officials issued an "agreement to annex," a standard form township property owners fill out when they request sewer or water service. The form is not an application for annexation, but those who sign it agree to annex into the city if the property ever becomes contiguous with Kent.

When council received the application, Councilman Ronald Heineking suggested the city annex the property since it is adjacent to Kent's border. Council voted to direct the city administration to seek annexation of the land, and also passed a resolution lifting itself-imposed moratorium on city-driven annexation.

Benjamin said if the development needs city water, the city can provide it at a higher rate, just as it does to other water customers in the township.

"We think we have the ability to protect and provide services for any

retail outlet in Franklin Township," he said. "We don't believe Kent's

supplying water should dictate the need to annex Franklin Township."

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