TRUMBULL CO. Trustees oppose annexing to Niles

A decision will be made within 90 days.
WARREN -- A road never built may block the annexation of 34 acres of Weathersfield Township property to the city of Niles.
At a hearing on the proposed annexation Wednesday, a lawyer for the Weathersfield Township trustees tried to convince Trumbull County commissioners that a road created on paper in 1916 prevents part of the property considered for annexation to Niles from touching any other city land.
The parcels, which make up the largely undeveloped property north of U.S. Route 422 behind McMenamy's Restaurant and Banquet Facility, are owned by Jim Coats Sr., Pace Family Limited Partnership and B.R.D. Ltd., whose president, Robert Leonard, represented the group. His partnership also owns McMenamy's.
"The city has much more to offer us," Leonard said. "The fire rates for insurance, the police response, all of these are much better."
He said that there were no immediate plans to develop the property.
About the road: The lawyer for Weathersfield Township, William M. Roux, argued that commissioners should reject the annexation because Cassano Avenue, which exists on paper only, is owned from the centerline to its northeast edge by Weathersfield.
The road forms a thin strip of Weathersfield Township between McMenamy's, which is in Niles, and a four-acre property included in the annexation.
Part of the land, which borders on state Route 422 east of McMenamy's and extends part of the way behind the banquet center, is now used as a parking area for Jim Pace Pontiac.
It is separated from the rest of the 31 acres proposed for annexation by a thin slice of land owned by Ralph's RV.
The rest of the proposed annexation lies at an angle to the north, with frontage on state Route 422 and Wabash Avenue. Its only connection to the city of Niles is a 34-foot border with McMenamy's.
But Roux argued that "shoe-stringing" properties together for annexation may not meet the requirements set out by law.
When Leonard annexed McMenamy's to Niles, that parcel touched only on a few feet of city land on the other side of state Route 422.
The annexation took place only after a four-year legal battle, starting in 1990, said David Pugh, Weathersfield Township administrator.
A review by the Trumbull County engineer's office of the latest annexation found the property is "adjacent and contiguous" to the city of Niles.
Another idea: Pugh said that the township had a good relationship with the city of Niles, and that he hoped the two entities could soon create a Joint Economic Development District as an alternative to annexation.
Under a JEDD, a city typically provides utilities to a property and collects some city taxes, but the land remains in the township, which continues to receive its share of the property tax.
County commissioners have 90 days to decide on the annexation.

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