Wednesday, December 19, 2001

78 acres approved for Mason

Deerfield Twp. land added to growing city

By Earnest Winston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — Warren County commissioners Tuesday unanimously approved the annexation of 78 acres into Mason from Deerfield Township, a renewal of the Mason-Deerfield tug-of-war over annexations. But the decision also avoided a court battle.

        The approval to annex 48 acres owned by the Mason Board of Education and 30 acres owned by Bradley and Marilyn Mitchell will not be appealed, said Al Schrader, an attorney representing Deerfield.

        Mr. Schrader was retained by township officials, he said, because at one point the Mitchells considered staying in the township despite having signed an agreement to annex into Mason. Had the Mitchells changed their minds and decided to stay in Deerfield, the two sides might have beenheaded for a court battle.

        Still, Deerfield Township Trustee Bill Morand said he was disappointed at the decision to annex the property into the northwest portion of Mason, near Mason Road and Colt Lane.

        “The real issue is the fact that (Mr. Mitchell) signed a pre-annexation agreement, and Mason was forcing him to go to the city. The pre-annexation agreement, to me, is illegal (and) it's kind of done under duress,” Mr. Morand said.

        On Nov. 30, the trustees approved spending $100,000 to bring utilities to Mr. Mitchell's property.

        Once developed, Mr. Morand said, the property had been expected to generate between $50,000 and $100,000 annually in taxes to the township.

        Mason City Manager Scot Lahrmer said he does not perceive the commissioner's decision to be a victory for Mason and a loss for Deerfield.

        “Annexations are the natural evolution of cities,” he said after the hearing.

        Mason, Ohio's second-fastest-growing city, has nearly doubled in size, to 17.6 square miles, in the past decade.

        Since 1989, Mason has annexed about 5,600 acres, or 8 square miles — most of which has come from an unwilling Deerfield Township.


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