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Cheshire is growing again after latest annexation

CHESHIRE (AP) - Three years ago, this Ohio River village nearly vanished after American Electric Power bought out most of the residents and bulldozed their homes.

But Cheshire is on the way back, now that Gallia County commissioners have approved annexing 394 acres of neighboring Cheshire Township.

That will bring in about 120 residents to join the 21 who remained after AEP bought out most of their neighbors, often for three times or more than what their property was worth.

The annexation will go through if no one appeals it by June 25.

AEP has said it won't oppose the annexation if the Village Council votes Monday night to approve a land-use agreement which guarantees the utility company access to about 100 acres it owns within the newly enlarged village.

''We are for the annexation. We are glad it went through,'' AEP spokeswoman Terri Flora said.

Cheshire, about 85 miles southeast of Columbus, is the site of the coal-burning Gen. James M. Gavin power plant about 85 miles southeast of Columbus. The 154-year-old village was practically depopulated after AEP's $20 million buyout.

Most of Cheshire's 221 residents took the deal offered in 2002 and left town with checks to buy homes elsewhere. In exchange, they signed agreements promising not to sue over any health problems in connection with smokestack emissions from the power plant.