Vienna, Howland Township trustees to discuss fighting potential annexation into Niles
Vienna and Howland Township trustees will be meeting Wednesday night at 6pm at the Howland Township Administrative Building to discuss fighting potential annexation to the City of Niles.
Concurrently, Niles city council will meet at 6pm to vote on legislation to annex a parcel of land in Vienna Township.
Trustees in both townships have expressed opposition to this annexation with primary concerns being emergency response time along with infrastructure concerns. They also want more clarity about the city of Niles' broader plans for annexation should it happen in the future.
Vienna Township Trustee Chairman, Phil Pegg tells 21 News Vienna Township has experienced longer response times firsthand after the City of Girard purchased a lake in the township.
Pegg cited an incident at the lake where Girard's response time was delayed compared to Vienna's.
"We can respond in five minutes. [Girard] takes close to 20," Pegg said.
One concern echoed by both townships was modifications to an interchange at State Route 11. Howland Township Trustee Matthew Vansuch tells 21 News his primary concern with this is what it would do to the township's rural land.
"This development and that interchange would completely transform this area of rural and and residences into another commercial sprawl that would go from there all the way to 422 and 46," Vansuch said.
Meanwhile, Pegg tells us this would affect Niles-Vienna road because the space affected is designated open/agricultural space and also that it could increase traffic.
"There is more than enough traffic on Niles-Vienna Road now and we don't need to increase it," Pegg said.
Vansuch also expressed concern that residents of the townships will be forced into this annexation and have their power and services cut if they do not annex into the city.
"This annexation further brings the city within the township's borders and cutting the utilities of residents if they don't annex," Vansuch said.
Niles Mayor, Steve Mientkiewcz tells 21 News that the claims made in these concerns are "completely false" and adds that residents of both townships will not be forced into this annex adding that the annex was the request of a property owner and not the city itself.
"Obviously, if the property owner doesn't want to be annexed into the city of Niles and does not want their services, that's their prerogative," Mayor Mientkiewcz said.
When asked about a business in Weathersfield Township that was annexed into Niles that had its power cut back in August of 2020, Mientkiewcz tells us that was not because of a refusal to annex, but because of the business not following the correct application procedure.
"The idea of forced annexation like the townships are trying to portray is completely false," Mientkiewcz said.
When asked about Vienna's concerns regarding longer response times for emergencies, Mientkiewcz told us that Niles's police and fire departments are "minutes away" from Vienna.
"Niles Police and Fire is actually closer to Vienna," Mientkiewcz said.
Mientkiewcz tells us that Howland Township will not be served by Niles Police and Fire Departments because they aren't annexed into Niles, despite comments from Howland Township trustees claiming that the annex will affect the township.
21 News will be sending a reporter to this meeting. Tune in to 21 News tonight at 5:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. and check back here for the latest updates on this meeting.