East Palestine wants to annex property and develop it for homes.
By NORMAN LEIGH
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
LISBON -- Columbiana County commissioners are seeking legal help on how to handle annexation requests because there are questions surrounding a new law guiding such proceedings.
Commissioners agreed Wednesday that they need advice from the county prosecutor's office before moving ahead on two annexation proposals before them.
Challengers question whether the law, which gives townships and counties more say in annexations, is really in effect. They say a decision last year not to put a measure on the ballot recalling the law was flawed. Voters should have been given an opportunity in November to scrap the new law, some say.
The challenges are being reviewed by the Ohio attorney general.
Given the confusion, it's unclear whether annexations should be processed under the old or new law.
"We're not sure which law is in effect," Commissioner Sean Logan said.
Gary Clark, East Palestine city manager, and law director Brad Allison presented commissioners with a petition to annex into the city 40 acres in Unity Township.
The land, located along Padgett Road, is owned by the city, which wants to annex it and develop it for single-family housing.
The city would spend about $1 million to install streets, sewers and other infrastructure on the property, which includes a city-owned lake.
That expenditure would be recouped by dividing the land into 50 100-foot-by-150-foot lots and selling them individually, Clark explained. The city wants the land developed to add to its population, he added.
Allison asked commissioners to expedite the annexation application so that construction on the first homes can begin this year.
Commissioners also received a request to annex into Salem about 46 acres in Perry Township.
The privately owned land is north of Pearce Circle on the city's northeast side. It's unclear what the property would be used for if annexed.