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Trustees lash out at attempt of annexation

Weathersfield to fight Niles

WEATHERSFIELD — Township officials are taking action to protect their borders after Niles City Council last week passed legislation that township properties contiguous to the city borders receiving utilities from Niles be annexed into the city.

Township trustees at their meeting Tuesday not only hired legal counsel to help them with the matter, but also are asking the Trumbull County Engineer’s Office to investigate options for the county to provide water to the township instead of Niles.

To further show how concerned they are about the annexation attempts, trustees passed several motions to:

• No longer provide prisoner transportation for the city police department, effective in 30 days;

• Request the return of the fire engine / pumper and equipment that was loaned to Niles during its fiscal emergency when it was not able to purchase a fire truck;•l No longer loan road department equipment, such as equipment transportation trailer and boom mower, to Niles or provide road department labor to the city;

• No longer purchase fuel from the city for police vehicles, effective in 30 days;

• Send a letter to both Niles city and Niles Municipal Court directing that city and court officials cease from initiating conversations about annexation with township employees who are in the city conducting township business.

Township trustees said they have been informed that township employees have been approached by Niles officials and workers suggesting that Niles is going to annex areas of the township to the city and township employees may be working for Niles.

The motion states “The township trustees believe that these communications with township employees are inappropriate and request that if the city wants to discuss the annexation, to contact a Weathersfield township trustee or the Weathersfield administrator.”

Trustee Marvin McBride said Niles’ action last week “was the start of something big.”

“This may be the start of one of the biggest issues ever since I have been here … We have done everything to be a good neighbor and friend to Niles helping them whatever way we could when they were in trouble. Now all of a sudden they want to start annexing parts of our township to get the tax dollars. It is time for us to fight if this is what they want to do,” McBride said.

He said Howland and other townships also will be affected and he hopes they join Weathersfield in preventing annexation.

“The other townships are in jeopardy too. We all need to stick together and hope they go along with us,” McBride said.

The motion adopted by Niles requires properties receiving utilities from Niles that are contiguous to the city to annex into the city in order to continue receiving utility services. If property is not contiguous, the motion requires the township to enter into a development incentive agreement committing to annex into the city if they become contiguous in order to continue receiving utility services.

Trustees said Weathersfield residents have chosen to live in the township and do not want to be forced to annex into the city.

Township Administrator David Rouan is sending a letter to the county engineer requesting the engineer’s office provide options for providing water to township residents who receive water from Niles. McBride said other townships also will be asked not to accept water from Niles.

Trustee Chairman Steve Gerberry said if Niles does reconsider or change its annexation attempts, trustees will discuss reconsidering the various motions passed.

Trustees hired the law firm of Taft, Stettinius and Hollister LLP of Columbus not to exceed $15,000 and attorney James Brutz at $150 per hour, not to exceed $5,000, to assist law director Cherry Poteet with annexation and utility issues.

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