If township ends, what happens?

Tuesday, May 12, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

DEERFIELD TOWNSHIP -- No one -- not state legislators, representatives from the Ohio Municipal League, the County Commissioners Association of Ohio or local county officials -- fully grasps what would happen if Warren County commissioners dissolved Deerfield Township.

The state law that commissioners are relying on to dissolve Deerfield Township was written a century ago and was last amended in 1953. It has not been used much since then, so it will require research to fully understand it, said Tim Oliver, Warren County prosecutor. "It's too early to speculate what the remedies could be," he said Monday.

"There's a number of ways it could go," added Warren County Auditor Nick Nelson.

Under the law, if Deerfield Township government ceases to exist, three things could happen:

  • The land could be attached to contiguous townships.

  • It could be attached to contiguous townships and the combined townships would create a new township altogether.

  • If residents want, the land could simply become its own smaller township.

However, the township could not, as a whole, be annexed by a contiguous city. The city of Mason surrounds Deerfield Township.

"There's some ambiguities in the law," said Ohio Rep. Robert Schuler, R-Sycamore Township. "It's not clear what would happen. The law says the township could be folded into abutting townships, but does that include a paper township, like Mason Township?" As a paper township, Mason's city borders are identical to the Mason Township borders. The entity of Mason Township exists only on paper. It has no trustees or other township bodies.

But based on a quick review, Mason likely would not be able to absorb Deerfield Township if it were dissolved, said Cheryl Subler, policy analyst for the County Commissioner Association of Ohio. According to 1953 case law, a paper township "may not be considered an adjoining township," she said.

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