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Officials back off on annexation

CHESAPEAKE — Chesapeake village officials won’t pursue their plans to annex the western end of the village.

“It is on the backburner,” Chesapeake Mayor Dick Gilpin said. “It is not right at this time. Who knows when it will be brought up again.”

In April the council had unanimously voted to proceed with the process to annex two miles west from the village limits at Triangle Park to about half of the Lawrence County airport. Approximately 500 residents would have been affected.

In late April about 40 West Chesapeake residents came to a public hearing with at least half of them against the move.

Among those in opposition was the Union Township Trustees who did not want the 730 parcels, plus a portion of the airport, taken out of the township.

For the annexation to happen, a majority of the parcel owners would have had to sign petitions in favor of the change. Then, after those signatures were verified, the decision would have rested with the Lawrence County Commissioners.

Commission President Bill Pratt had said publicly that the commission would not approve the annexation if only part of the airport was included. Pratt said the commission wanted either all of the airport in the annexation or none of it. Dividing the airport property would affect Pratt’s plans to commercially develop that acreage since the tax base would not be uniform.

Gilpin said the village did not have the organization to go out and gather the petitions. Now he wants to focus on improvements that the village plans to pursue including upgrading village sidewalks.

“We have other fish to fry,” he said. “We have some projects going on in Chesapeake. We want to show them what we have, to make more progress. They wanted us to progress.”

Among the advantages to annexation, village officials said, were increased police protection and more grant money for infrastructure upgrades.

Gilpin admits to being disappointed that the annexation has been halted.

“The village needs to expand,” he said. “Villages have to get bigger or disappear. Government is going to be so expensive that you can’t support it with a small population. It is not the expenses you incur, but the ones put upon you that you have no control over, such as retirement, natural gas, lighting, keeping up the roads. It is something you have no control over. What you could do with a small population in the past you can’t do now.”