NEWTON FALLS, Ohio (WKBN) – The Village of Newton Falls is trying to take over some land from both Newton and Braceville townships, but some aren’t happy about it.
Leaders in Newton Falls said annexing the land will bring economic development.
“I thing the whole county will benefit,” said Newton Falls City Manager Jack Haney.
He said it makes sense to develop land near the interchange of Route 5 and the Ohio Turnpike.
Newton Falls’ plan is to annex about 440 acres there from Braceville and Newton townships to do just that. Officials said the annexation will provide Newton Falls with the one element it doesn’t have for development: land.
“We have available water, we have available sewer lines and so we are primed to serve the area,” Haney said.
Newton Falls said its goal “is to create the environment for economic growth” for the community. Leaders said they’ve been wanting to develop that strip of Route 5 for many years.
Trustees from both townships don’t see it that way.
“Our opinion is it’s nothing more than them trying to take revenue away from us to give to themselves,” said Braceville Township Trustee Todd Brewster.
Braceville trustees fear that if the annexation goes through, they could lose $60,000 to $75,000 a year collected from bed taxes at the hotels already in place.
That money goes into their general fund and helps pay for safety services and the roads.
“It might not sound like a lot of money to big entities but to a small township, it’s a lot of money,” Brewster said.
City leaders said they don’t want to take the underlying property tax away from the townships. They said the townships would keep the taxes from existing hotels, but taxes from any new developments or jobs would go to Newton Falls.
“This is not against anybody, I hope it’s not perceived that way. This is working to utilize our assets for the whole region,” Haney said.
During the last 20 years, Newton Falls officials said several times they’ve tried to work out a joint economic development district with Braceville, but nothing ever came of it.
The village has been working with the chamber of commerce, county planning commission, county commissioners, state and national elected officials and agencies to encourage business development.
Newton Falls see the annexation as a “positive move to promote the area as the ‘Gateway to Trumbull County.'”
Brewster said Braceville Township’s lawyer is currently drafting a petition for people opposed to the annexation. It will be available at their meeting at Braceville’s Town Hall on Tuesday.