Groveport Village Council rejected a de-annexation request by Marc and Roger Studley of Access Storage.
At its July 26 meeting, council voted 4-2 to decline the Studleys’ request to de-annex their approximately 26.1 acres, located on and near the southwest corner of Groveport and Saltzgaber roads, from the village of Groveport. Council members Donna Drury, Jean Ann Hilbert, Ed Rarey, and Shawn Cleary voted against allowing the de-annexation while Ed Dildine and Jan Stoots supported it.
Following the vote, Marc Studley told council they made the "wrong decision" and, as he walked out of the council chambers, he added, "I can’t be held hostage by this village."
The Studleys have stated they only annexed to the village six years ago in order to get sanitary sewer service. They feel a sanitary sewer line is needed to help the western Groveport Road area develop.
"The only way for the village to grow commercially is to the west," said Roger Studley in June.
However, after several years of talks, the sewer project never materialized due to its cost and lack of support from some other area property owners.
The much discussed proposed west Groveport Road sewer project remains on the shelf. The proposed, 2,100 foot, approximately $840,000 sanitary sewer line would include properties along Groveport Road extending west from Greenpointe Drive to the First Baptist Church of Groveport property and would serve an area encompassing 240 acres.
Had the de-annexation been allowed, the property would have reverted into Madison Township and the Studleys would have been free to pursue other possible annexation and utility options, such as to the nearby village of Obetz.
"All we want to do is get out and be free to pursue other options," Marc Studley said in June.
Groveport Law Director Kevin Shannon noted the village received a phone call from officials from the First Baptist Church of Groveport, located immediately to the west of Studleys’ property, indicating they are also considering de-annexing from Groveport. Church officials, like the Studleys, have been seeking sewer service from Groveport. However, Shannon said the village has not yet received any formal written notice of the church’s intent to pursue de-annexation.
Rarey said he did not support the de-annexation request because he believes it would set a precedent that could open the door for other properties to be requested to be de-annexed from the village.
Hilbert agreed that allowing the de-annexation would have set an unfavorable precedent for the village.
"I don’t want the village to lose land," said Hilbert, who added it was the Studleys who approached the village originally to annex their property.
Hilbert said she has "nothing against the Studleys" and she supported the sewer project, but that plan never received support from full council.
Hilbert added she might have supported the de-annexation had it only been for the property south of Groveport Road and not the parcels on the north side of the road. She didn’t like the idea of creating township "islands."
Drury said she "didn’t like the idea of the village giving up land." Like Hilbert, she also did not want to create pockets of potentially undeveloped township land surrounded by the village.
Cleary stated he opposed the de-annexation because he wanted to "protect the village’s boundaries."
Dildine said of the de-annexation request, "Who am I to stand in his way in his efforts to make his business better?"
Dildine noted the potential loss of the Studley property would not result in a big loss of property and income tax revenues for the village.
"Losing 26 acres doesn’t bother me," said Dildine. "If he (Studley) develops the property, more power to him."
Even though she did not like losing land for the village, Stoots said she voted for the de-annexation request because she felt "there wasn’t anything the village could do for him at this time" regarding installing the sewer line. She added if the Studleys wanted to pursue other options "she didn’t want to hold them up."
In a related matter, the Ohio EPA notified the village in a letter dated June 10 that St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 5684 Groveport Road; Bright Innovations, 5650 Groveport Road; and First Baptist Church of Groveport (none of which have sanitary sewer lines) are in violation of Ohio’s water pollution control laws.
"It is the Ohio EPA’s position that this area’s (west Groveport Road) sanitation would be best served by sanitary sewer," wrote Erin Sherer, Ohio EPA environmental supervisor.
St. Mary’s and Bright Innovations filed appeals, but the Ohio EPA noted they will not be heard until February 2012.
According to the Ohio EPA, First Baptist Church is exploring the possibility of obtaining sewer service from the village of Obetz.