Galena Village Council’s special meeting Thursday was 10 minutes long, much to the dismay of many local residents in attendance.
“Could somebody please explain what the hell just happened?” one woman yelled as the council members were leaving their chambers. “Shame on this council! You represent us!” yelled others.
“They just green-lighted a third reading!” yelled one man. “They just had the second reading jammed down your throat!”
Although there was other legislation on the agenda, the public’s attention was on two second readings: a resolution authorizing a pre-annexation agreement and an ordinance accepting the annexation of 260 acres into Galena. Both dealt with the Blackhawk Golf Course and John Wright properties, which are currently in Berkshire Township. If any of the parties were to dispute the agreement, the annexation would be off.
According to the Galena Planning and Zoning Commission report, a proposed development on the annexed land would include “the addition of 1,029 new residences combined with other commercial and mixed uses.” Despite some opposition, the commission granted conditional zoning approval of the development plan.
Both of the second readings were shown on Thursday’s council agenda as “EXPECTED TO BE A READING ONLY.” Local municipalities have different policies, but generally when there are three readings on legislation, one of the readings is simply that — it is read into the record. One of the readings involves discussion and is considered a public hearing where questions and comments are heard. On the third reading, the matter is voted on, tabled, or can go to further readings if agreed upon. Residents were given a chance to speak on the issue after the first readings were held back on Aug. 26.
Several concerned Galena and area residents have been sounding off against the development since it was introduced earlier this year during the public comment portion of village meetings. They were surprised when they weren’t given that same opportunity on Thursday.
“Why the rush?” someone said to council as the legislation was read. Another person tried to speak at the microphone, but was cut off.
Afterwards, people were talking in the village hall and its parking lot about what action they could take. Among the concerns is that the population could triple and the village would lose its quaint charm, added students in the Big Walnut school district, more traffic, and safety and environmental issues.
The third readings of the pre-annexation and annexation are expected to take place at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 23, at the Village Hall, 109 Harrison St.. “All meetings are open to the public,” states the village website.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.