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Plain Township Board of Trustees v. Board of Commissioners

July 14, 2008

PLAIN TOWNSHIP BOARD OF TRUSTEES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT
v.
BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



CHARACTER OF PROCEEDING: Civil Appeal From Stark County Court Of Common Pleas Case No. 2006-CV-03391.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Edwards, J.

JUDGES: W. Scott Gwin, P.J., Sheila G. Farmer, J., Julie A. Edwards, J.

OPINION

JUDGMENT: Affirmed

{¶1} Appellant, Plain Township Board of Trustees, appeals from the judgment of the Stark County Court of Common Pleas which affirmed the decision of the Stark County Board of Commissioners to grant a petition for annexation filed by the City of Canton.

STATEMENT OF FACTS AND CASE

{¶2} On May 23, 2006, appellee, the City of Canton, by and through its agent, Samuel Sliman, filed a petition for the annexation of 51.228 acres of land ("territory") from Plain Township to the City of Canton. The petition for annexation was sought by the property owners and is commonly referred to as a regular type annexation. The property was wholly owned by Diano Realty Corp., and the petition for annexation was properly signed by the corporate officers, Anthony Diano and Darlene Guynup.

{¶3} On July 26, 2006, the Stark County Board of Commissioners held a public hearing in accordance with R.C. 709.02. At the hearing Samuel Sliman appeared as an agent of the petitioner, an agent of the City of Canton and a witness in favor of the petition for annexation.

{¶4} Sliman, after having been duly sworn, stated in his opening statement to the board of commissioners that the annexation was pretty "clear cut". T.5-6. He stated that the 51.288 acre territory is adjacent to the City of Canton from the west, south, north and east. He further stated that the territory is essentially vacant that there are "no houses, no residents, [and] no businesses on the property" T.6. He stated that the territory used to be a quarry and that recently the owners have been using the property to dump non-toxic materials such as rocks and cement. T.6. Sliman stated that the City of Canton had been negotiating to purchase a portion of the property that lies east of the City of Canton.*fn1 He stated that it is the city's intention to clean up this area "a little bit" and to expand the city's service center which is utilized by the park department, engineering department and motor vehicle department. T.6.

{¶5} During his testimony Sliman stated, "I did not call on any people here or any people here on this annexation. I simply wanted to abide by the wishes of the property owner. Because he wanted his property in the City of Canton so that he could get the services the City provides.***Nor did I try to cultivate a larger annexation than what is immediately requested by the property owner." T.19-20.

{¶6} Sliman testified that the annexation was not unduly large. He stated that Canton is 15,000 acres so "51 acres brought into the city limits is not a great deal of land." T.20.

{¶7} Sliman testified that because the land was vacant it did not have any roadways, therefore, safety services access to surrounding areas would remain the same. Sliman stated, "in order to respond to these people of Plain [Township] *** they [safety services] have to come through Canton anyway." T.21. The evidence also established that the city had passed resolution 87/2006 indicating that in the event of an annexation, Canton City services would be provided to the territory.

{¶8} Plain Township Fire Chief, John Sabo, concurred with Sliman and testified that an annexation of the territory would not in any way prevent him from providing services to the area. T.33. He expressed concerns that the confusion would come from the citizens' perspective regarding which entity was to provide emergency services to a particular territory and the surrounding community, i.e. Canton City or Plain Township.

T.33. He suggested it could create a confusion regarding safety services.*fn2

{¶9} Further evidence was presented that the total taxable value of the territory is fifty-thousand, two hundred and thirty dollars ($50,230.00). The evidence established that this taxable value would mean a nominal, five hundred and forty one dollars and forty-five cent annual real estate tax loss to Plain Township.

{¶10} On August 17, 2006, the Stark County Board of Commissioners approved the annexation. In its approval the Stark County Board of Commissioners found in pertinent part as follows:

{¶11} "4) The territory proposed to be annexed is not unreasonably large. [and]

{ΒΆ12} "5) On Balance the general good of the territory proposed to be annexed will be served, and the benefit to the territory proposed to be annexed and the surrounding area will outweigh the detriments to the territory proposed to be annexed and ...


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