Published on Thu, February 25, 2010 @ 2:08 p.m.
Q: I've been reading and hearing about annexation lately. What is it, exactly?
A: Property owners often seek the services that a city or village can provide, such as water and sewer service, full-time police and fire protection, and more favorable zoning or development practices.
Q: How can an individual property owner seek annexation?
A: The property owner should contact the city or village to find out if the city or village is interested in annexing the property. If the city or village is not interested, the property will not be annexed. If there is interest, the property owner should call an attorney who has experience in handling annexations.
Q: If any owner or owners of property are interested in annexing their property to a nearby village, how might they go about doing this?
A: Recently, the annexation laws were overhauled, and the laws now provide several methods by which property can be annexed to a city or village. The law provides three different ways to annex the property of one owner, or the collective properties of more than one owner, so long as all (100%) of those owners agree to be annexed.
Q: What are the ways by which collectively owned property could be annexed, assuming all property owners agree?
A: The three methods follow. All require, among other things, that the property to be annexed is contiguous to the city or village.
1) All the owners of the property that is to be annexed file a petition with the Board of county commissioners of the county in which the property is located. The property owners also must work with both the governing body of the township where the property is located and the governing body of the city or village to which the property will be annexed. The township and the city or village must agree, in writing, to annex the specific property. This agreement may establish the terms of the annexation, spell out what services will be provided and by whom (the township or the city/village), identify what payments the city or village may make to the township (or vice versa), and may include any agreements with owners or developers, etc.
2) Property owners with 500 acres or less of property may file a petition to annex to a neighboring city or village, providing the total amount of property to be annexed is not more than 500 acres, and that at least five percent of the property's perimeter is contiguous to the city or village - and there is no "island" of property left unannexed. In addition to the annexation law's other requirements, the city or village must pass a resolution stating what services it will provide to the territory to be annexed.
3) Property that is part of economic development project may qualify for annexation. As with the first two methods, the property owner or owners file a petition seeking annexation. In order to qualify the project must involve more than a $10,000,000 total private investment, including improvements to the land, infrastructure, and installation of fixtures and equipment, and it must generate more than $1,000,000 in annual payroll expenses.
Q: If most, but not all of the owners of an unincorporated township want to be annexed to a nearby village, can any of the property be annexed?
A: A "majority owner" provision allows property to be annexed even when only a majority of the property owners agree. Among other annexation law requirements, the property to be annexed must not be "unreasonably" large, and the benefits to the annexed territory and the surrounding area (taken as a whole) will outweigh the negative aspects to the annexed territory and the surrounding area (taken as a whole). (The "surrounding area" includes the territory within the unincorporated area of any township located half a mile or less from any of the property to be annexed.)
The above information was provided by the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA) and the Ohio State Bar Foundation. This article was prepared by Sheila Nolan Gartland, an attorney with the Columbus firm of Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP. Articles appearing in this column are intended to provide broad, general information about the law. Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to seek the advice of a licensed attorney.