Friday, September 07, 2001

Neighbors: Back off, Middletown

Township welcomes school, but not city

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FRANKLIN TWP. — Residents of this Warren County township don't want the city of Middletown getting any closer, they said in no uncertain terms at a hearing Thursday night on a proposed annexation for a Catholic high school.

        “We don't need Middletown,” longtime resident George Coyner said. “We don't need anything they've got.”

        Warren County commissioners did not make a decision on the annexation Thursday.

Donation offer

        The 97-acre parcel on Ohio 122 is barely a mile from Middletown's current border. It is owned by Bill Akers, who has offered to donate two-thirds of the land to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati for a new Fenwick High School.

        Fenwick has outgrown the Middletown building it has occupied since 1962, school officials say, thanks to the burgeoning populations of Butler and Warren counties.

        More than 200 people — mostly opponents from the township — crowded into the gym at Hunter Elementary for the hearing.

        Many said they had no problem with Fenwick moving from Butler County into their area, but they did not want the city tagging along.

        “If you can build Fenwick High School without being annexed, I'm all for it,” James Collins said.

What about the rest?

        Residents also are concerned about what the rest of the property will be used for. Mr. Akers told a skeptical crowd that he has not decided what to do with the other 31 acres.

        Franklin Township Trustee Rupert Ruppert, who is an attorney, conceded one-owner annexations require only that the municipality prove it can provide services to the land.

        But trustees and township residents said road and emergency services are better in the township.

        “Middletown officials have added malls and land to their coffers but in the process have gotten a reputation for not providing good services,” Trustee Phyllis Darragh said.

        The proposed use of the land, which would require rezoning, also may not be considered under state annexation law, but some residents said they fear a third school on Ohio 122 would further strain the already busy narrow, two-lane road.


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