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Commission explains Granville annexation ruling

In discussing his decision to issue a minority opinion on Granville’s latest failed annexation attempt, Commissioner Sean Sikora noted last week’s 2-1 vote was only the fifth time the commission has split since he took office in January 2017.

But upon reading the order issued by the commission based on the majority votes from Commissioners Ed Hawkins and Tom Bloom, as well as Sikora’s dissenting opinion, it’s clear that there’s not only agreement, but a clear path forward for Granville’s annexation plans.

The annexation by minor boundary adjustment would have included County Route 19 from the Star City Bridge to 507 Scotts Run Road (Granville Fire Department Station 2), Lady Bug Lane, Scotts Run Road from the municipal line to Lady Bug Lane and Chaplin Road from Westover’s municipal boundary to the intersection of CR 19.

The request is similar to annexation efforts denied by the commission in August 2017, except it included no businesses or residents, only DOH right-of-way and a fire hall belonging to the Granville VFD.

Because the request was by minor boundary adjustment, the commission had to weigh seven factors, including the somewhat subjective question of whether or not the annexation is in the best interest of the county.

It was on this question that the order denying annexation made the majority of its points. Further, Sikora points out, that was the only question in which the commissioners disagreed.

“The record is clear that the Commission unanimously agreed that Granville’s application met the first 6, out of 7, criteria,” Sikora wrote, adding “I do not believe that the Majority has articulated facts to support their decision to deny an application based on the sited [sic]7 criteria.”

Complicating matters is the fact that in the year this annexation request was before the commission, state code regarding annexation by minor boundary adjustment changed, essentially giving any residents and businesses to be annexed veto power.

However, in this instance, the only freeholders impacted would be the DOH and the Granville VFD. The DOH previously signed off on Granville’s efforts — though that was under the previous DOH transportation director and District 4 supervisor.

Both the majority order and dissenting opinion point out the request could be brought back as annexation by petition with the consent of the two impacted parties, which would remove much of the commission’s oversight.

“It is agreed among all Commissioners that Granville could refile the same application as an Annexation by Petition, pursuant to W.Va. Code
8-6-4, and the Commission would have no choice but to approve the request,” Sikora wrote.

When contacted Wednesday, Granville Mayor Patty Lewis said she didn’t wish to comment until she’s had an opportunity to read the commission’s filings.

Further, she said any decision to bring a third annexation effort would have to come from town council.

Also on Wednesday, the commission noted it is awaiting further instructions on how best to distribute the $100,000 in “hero pay” provided to each county by the state to offset extraordinary costs due to COVID-19.

“Ambiguity” was the word used to describe the state’s guidance on how to disperse the funds.

“It’s taken under advisement and we’re awaiting instruction,” Hawkins said.

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