Galena Village Council heard the first reading of a developer’s request to detach itself from the village at a meeting Monday.
Champion Homes sent a letter following the November election requesting the detachment, a move which was permitted by a pre-annexation agreement between the village and property owners.
Champion’s representatives were proposing housing and commercial businesses on the property of the current Blackhawk Golf Course and Wright Farm along state Route 3. If council had approved the legislation, it could have at least doubled the population of the village.
“Blackhawk Endeavors LLC is withdrawing its proposed development from consideration by the Village of Galena,” wrote Brian Yeager, president and CEO of The Champion Companies, on Nov. 8. “Per the pre-annexation agreement, we understand that the development parcels will revert back to Berkshire Township’s jurisdiction where its representatives will determine the site’s future.”
Earlier this year, the Galena Planning and Zoning Commission approved the Blackhawk development plan, despite some opposition. In addition, council had approved annexing the acreage into Galena from Berkshire Township, as well as the pre-annexation agreement. In spite of those approvals, many residents and people from neighboring communities filled council chambers to voice their opposition to the development in emotionally-charged exchanges at every meeting, into the second reading of the plan and public hearings on the matter, as well as a village-sponsored information session.
Prior to the election, many signs saying “Stop High Density Development” were visible in the yards of Galena residents. There are still some around, weeks after the election.
At Monday’s council meeting, attorney David Fisher, representing Champion, requested the detachment be passed by emergency. He noted there is a lawsuit challenging the annexation, and if the detachment is approved, there would be no basis for the litigation.
“My client has heard the will of the people,” Fisher said. “My client has no interest in proceeding in Galena or Berkshire Township. My client would not come back.” He said he thought the residents would want to move on and put the matter behind them.
Galena will have a new mayor next year — Jill Love, who has frequently asked questions about the pace of the legislative process at prior meetings. She defeated longtime incumbent Tommy Hopper, who said he was non-committal on the development.
Council had motioned and seconded suspending the rules requiring three readings of the detachment ordinance. However, Love, who was in the audience, said she felt this was an abuse of the emergency language, and she asked for a full three readings and the continuation of the public hearing. The village’s legal counsel, Kenneth J. Molnar, said it was permitted. Council then rescinded the motion.
Due to the holidays, Galena’s next council meeting is Dec. 16. If needed, there may be a planning and zoning commission meeting Dec. 18. Then on Jan. 6, 2020, council will hold its organizational meeting, where Love will be sworn in as the village’s next mayor.
In other business, the council approved by emergency an insurance contract through Rinehart-Walters-Danner Insurance Agency, where it’s had municipal insurance policies since 1993. Council also approved designating the portion of the Ohio-To-Erie Multi-use Trail through Galena as the Thomas W. Hopper Legacy Trail.
“He was quite moved and surprised by that,” said Administrator Jeff White.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.