Newton Falls annexation opposed

BRACEVILLE — During a trustees meeting Tuesday, Braceville Trustee Todd Brewster told nearly 100 residents from Braceville and Newton townships that officials “will do everything in our power to not let this happen,” referring to an annexation petition by Newton Falls.

He said trustees have been aware for a year that Newton Falls was planning to file an annexation petition, but officials were caught by surprise when the petition was actually filed Dec. 28. Brewster said trustees from both townships are asking residents to sign a petition opposing the annexation request, which later will be given to Trumbull County commissioners.

”We will have as many signatures on the petitions to show the county commissioners there are a lot of people against the annexation,” he said.

Newton Falls Village Council on Monday unanimously approved a resolution indicating what services it will provide to the 440-acre territory proposed for annexation. The 440 acres includes eight property owners who support the annexation, Brewster said.

The area includes property near the interchange of Route 5 and the Ohio Turnpike where the Holiday Inn Express is located.

Village Manager Jack Haney said this is the first step in the process. He said businesses in the area are requesting the annexation because of lower water and sewer rates provided in Newton Falls compared to the townships.

“We have available water, we have available sewer lines,” Haney said.

The resolution states 100 percent of the property owners signed the petition, which was filed with Trumbull County Commissioners on Dec. 28. The petition from Newton Falls was accepted by county commissioners at a meeting this week.

Services Newton Falls would provide with annexation include police, street maintenance, ice and snow removal and storm utility, the resolution states. The village wants to develop the land.

Brewster said they have attorney Alfred Schrader in place to handle the matter.

”We are not taking this lightly. We have been preparing for this for some time…..Let the commissioners know your feelings on this,” he said.

Residents were encouraged to attend upcoming county commissioner meetings, including 10:30 a.m. Friday, to voice their opposition. County commissioners have final say on the annexation.

Fiscal Officer Thomas Shay said anyone wanting to sign a petition can come to the town hall or to the next trustee meeting 6 p.m. Tuesday. Petitions also can be taken by volunteers for those residents unable to get to the town hall.

Officials said they would like to have all petitions by Tuesday.

Shay said residents also can stay updated on what is being done regarding annexation on the township website.

Brewster said while the township still would receive real property tax from hotels and businesses located in the annexed area, taxes from any new developments or jobs would go to Newton Falls.

Resident Nancy Kujala said she was concerned about the money being taken from the township, such as revenue from businesses.

Brewster said the township could lose between $60,000 to $70,000 per year in bed taxes from the hotels there.

”We will be losing money. For small township like ours and others, $60,000 to $70,000 is a lot of money to not have. For bigger townships with $10 million budgets, that amount would be different,” he said.

Brewster said Braceville has been in talks with the Regional Chamber of Commerce about what to do with the properties in terms of economic development. Trustee Aaron Young said Braceville was previously in talks with Newton Falls on a possible Joint Economic Development District to help both communities.

”We wanted to do what was in the best interest for both communities in developing the Route 5 corridor,” he said.

Brewster said a JEDD would be a way to avoid annexation and work with neighboring communities.

Braceville resident Teresa Young said she does not want to see changes in the properties near her home.

”A cornfield next door is fine with me,” she said

Newton Trustee Chairwoman Doreen Lutz, who attended the meeting, said Newton also opposes the annexation proposal.

Brewster said with two townships united working together, they will have more strength.

”We are building a united defense,” he said.