UPDATE 8/7/12 @ 10:30 p.m.
NITRO, W.Va. (WSAZ) – The Bayer CropScience plant is officially part of the city of Nitro.
The plant was officially annexed Aug. 2.
Nitro Mayor Dave Casebolt discussed the annexation during Tuesday night’s city council meeting. He told everyone there it's a great fiscal addition to the city and says, hopefully, it will attract other businesses.
Bayer is now excluded from paying assorted municipal fees.
Nitro City Council on Tuesday night approved a second reading of the ordinance.
The annexation will not include the plant.
Bayer Vice President Steve Hedrick says that by annexing the land, Nitro is setting the site up as a free enterprise zone, assuring that it remains unincorporated and free of municipal taxes.
The plan will go to the Kanawha County Commission for final approval.
The Bayer CropScience plant sits right in the middle of the struggle. Officials with the Bayer CropScience plant tell WSAZ.com they want to annex land around its industrial plant into Nitro. The city already has passed a first reading of the petition.
Dennis Davis is spearheading the effort to annex part of Institute into Dunbar.
"The goal is this year," Davis said.
For the past year, he's fought naysayers. Now there's a new barrier with the plant.
"It'll have to be clarified that's for sure. We both can't annex the same piece of property," Davis said.
Plant officials released a statement saying, "By annexing land to enclose the industrial park, Nitro effectively sets the site up as a free enterprise zone, assuring that it remains unincorporated and therefore free of municipal taxes as it seeks future investment."
Nitro's Mayor Rusty Casto has already received a few calls from unhappy people who live in Institute.
"They seem upset, but Bayer came to us asking us to do this. We didn't go to Bayer plant," Casto said.
However, Davis isn't getting upset yet. First, he plans to find out more. He’s filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the city of Nitro.
"They (Bayer) are a neighbor in this community. We have lived next to them for many years. We pay taxes to support our community and we want them to join us in that endeavor," Davis said.
"I hope there are not hard feelings between us and the good people of Institute and Dunbar, but like I said they came to us. We didn't go to them," Casto said.
Nitro's second reading on the petition will take place next week. Casto believes it will pass.
The Annexation Task Force plans to meet Thursday.
“Increased security, increased fire protection, some zoning restrictions are a few reasons. We've got a lot of abandoned housing in the area," Davis said.
Davis also understands there are two sides to every story
"We fully understand and appreciate that everyone will not agree with us 100 percent, but we're optimistic that it will be successful," Davis said.
Saturday the Citizen's for Positive Change opened up the Annexation Information Center in Institute, hoping to start a positive discussion from both points of view.
"We've had people who want more information to make up their own mind. We have in fact had some people who are opposed to it stop in,” Davis said.
Jane Waterman has been opposed to annexation.
“I've been getting different facts from different people. So, I wanted to come down here so I could be more aware and get this side of the story and get all the facts so I can try and figure out the pros and cons of annexation," Waterman said.
Information she plans to take home and think over.
"And also, talk to some of the people who I have been talking to in the past that are against it also and let them know what I've learned here today," Waterman said.
Waterman is not determined to change their minds, but to continue the discussion and do what's best.
“I haven't finished reading everything yet, but so far so good," Waterman said.
A petition is planned go out to citizens, to vote on annexation.
An official decision is expected to be made based on the response from the people in May or June.
Critics of the annexation believe a vote should be held, but information center officials say the voting process is too costly.
UPDATE: Thursday 1/13 @ 7:00 p.m.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The debate over land, taxes and city services has lead to a split decision as people contemplate whether or not the City of Dunbar should annex smaller, unincorporated areas.
It really translates out to dollars and cents and specifically taxes to homeowners and businesses.
"They want the businesses since that's where the real money is," Kanawha County Commissioner Kent Carper said. "At the same time, with that goes better fire protection, better police protection, sidewalks, street lights and so there's a great benefit to the homeowners."
Carper added, "They'll also have to pay additional taxes."
A preliminary public hearing was held at the Kanawha County Commission Wednesday night, but no one from the City of Dunbar even showed up.
Instead, business owners and residents against it had a huge showing, leaving many people playing the waiting game.
Manufacturing businesses are on the edge, fearing the bottom line could soon be hard hit. It's money they would be handing over with high B & O taxes for many places that have already been losing.
"A small city taking phantom B & O taxes that they think exist in to their coughers at the risk of eliminating future growth and future jobs and even all the way down to the jobs that currently exist."
Opponents say $1.8M would be generated from plants like Bayer and other large stakeholders in the unincorporated areas.
Dunbar wants to annex Institute, West Dunbar and Pinewood, with a group called the Sub-Area Planning Committee leading the charge.
"Why these folks feel that they should feel entitled to come here and not contribute whereas businesses that they do compete with in other cities and provide for the amenities I think that is unfair," Bill Raglin said. "
"We need improved emergency services, police protection, surface water drainage and the list goes on and on."
Raglin added, "These are things that can only be achieved we think in an incorporated area."
Those promises of increased emergency response, better streets and sidewalks and city services are something many are hoping for but others just don't see it happening.
"I just don't think that Dunbar can take care of this community and meet the needs of the citizens of Dunbar," Larry Dawson of Pinewood said.
According to state code, a petition is all it would take to make the annexation happen without a vote.
The Kanawha County Commission tried to listen anyway at a preliminary public hearing.
"We wanted the public to be well aware of this potential and their intentions," Kanawha County Commissioner Kent Carper said. "I was amazed that Dunbar didn't even bother to show up."
Dunbar officials say they're trying to get all of their facts before taking any questions, while others are already giving their answer.
"We would expect to have people on council and in doing so we would be able to have an input in terms of how the city is administered." Raglin said.
Dunbar Mayor Jack Yeager says he is waiting on the Sub-Area Planning Committee to complete a report and then they will hold public meetings.
The legislature did reduce the role a county commission can play in annexation between a city and an unicorporated area.
State code says by ordinance Dunbar could annex those areas by a petition by getting more than 50 percent of votes for the proposal.
Dunbar wants to annex parts of Kanawha County, including West Dunbar and Institute.
There are some opponents being very clear about their feelings, with signs popping up along West Virginia Route 25 expressing disapproval with the proposal.
But, this week people are also getting a look at why this could be a good thing.
In June, the Regional Intergovernmental Council put together a report for leaders of Dunbar as well as the Kanawha County Commission.
It detailed some of the potential impacts of annexing in a few square miles of land west of the city, including land where businesses like Bayer CropScience and Dow Chemical and sit.
Critics of the proposal have pointed out a few key concerns, including the likelihood of property taxes rising for people who would be annexed into the city.
“I thought it was crazy. It's all fine the way it is. There's no reason to change it," says Institute resident Teresa Chapman, who has placed a sign in her front yard showing her disapproval of the proposed annexation.
Some members of the business community are concerned that businesses brought in through the annexation would face increased B&O taxes that would stifle job creation.
"It'll put a stop to the growth of their companies as it probably will ours in this particular marketplace, kill off expansion. And, several businesses have indicated to us that they'll have to move to other areas," says Larry Dawson, president and chief financial officer of IVS Hydro, Inc.
According to the June report, Dunbar would take in an additional $2.9 million per year.
That money would mostly come from the B&O tax. For example, Bayer would pay the city an estimated $750,000 per year. Dow Chemical would pay an additional $300,000 per year.
City leaders say that money could be used to do things like improve emergency services.
Richard and Gwen Bridges live in Institute and like the idea of annexation.
"I think the value of the property would be better if you can get rid of these vacant places, rundown places," says Richard Bridges.
"You really have no one to go to, say a mayor or city council. You don't really have a voice," says Gwen Bridges.
They got a three-page letter in the mail Wednesday from the annexation task force that's been studying this issue.
The letter states, “Any increase in property taxes should be offset by a decrease in home and fire insurance. Owners of rental property will see an increase in property taxes, however they should see a decrease in insurance costs as well.”
The letter mentions residents could benefit from things like new police officers and firefighters as well as animal control.
"I don't think that the property tax is going to be that much that it would negate having those protections," says Gwen Bridges.
In the letter, the task force says there are going to be two public meetings during the public comment period.
After that, a petition will go around that will allow people to voice their approval or disapproval of the annexation.
Critics say they'd like to see this handled by a vote and not a petition.
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