Concerned residents packed Sunbury Village Council chambers for last week's meeting, expecting to weigh in a petition to annex Berkshire Township land into the village.
However, there was no discussion at the March 19 meeting about the petition. Rather, council members said they were obligated to pass a resolution since the petition was filed.
Property owners Geraldine Eder Dye, Domigan Walker LLC and Kirk's Creek Investment LLC filed a petition with Delaware County commissioners March 5 requesting an annexation to the village of Sunbury. The owners collectively have 128 acres of property in Berkshire Township they want to be annexed into the village.
Though the property owners' intent for the land was not stated during last week's meeting, previously discussed plans indicate an outlet mall, a sports complex, hotels and offices are in the works for the site.
Within 20 days upon receiving the petition, council was required by law to pass a resolution outlining municipal services available to the potential annexed property.
Council passed the resolution that states sewer, police, zoning, street and roadway services would be available to the land.
Village Solicitor David Brehm said discussion on the annexation would be held later, if at all.
"What I know is what has been filed and what we were required to do. We did what we were required to do," Brehm said. "As far as the merits of the annexation, those are going to be considered when the process requires (council) to consider it."
According to the petition, the property is east of South Galena Road, west of Domigan Road and northwest of Cheshire Road, and is adjacent to the village's borders.
Michael Shade, the property owners' agent, said the petitioners request only to have the land annexed into Sunbury.
"There is no specific plan for their property," Shade said. "That would be presumptuous, because if the annexation is approved at some point by this body, nothing can happen until there is a zoning plan and a development plan."
In November, Berkshire Township voters narrowly approved a zoning decision that will allow a new Simon-Tanger outlet mall to be located off U.S. Route 36 and state Route 37 at Interstate 71. That mall is set to open in summer 2015.
Some residents said during the election campaign that the township's rural integrity will continue to be compromised if there is more commercial development in the township.
The Facebook group the Meaningless Beanfield has been formed to oppose commercial development in Berkshire Township. Group administrators post messages encouraging people to speak at meetings and try to stop annexation.
But the annexation process has a long road ahead. Since council passed the necessary resolution within the required 20-day window, the petition will return to county commissioners, who will meet at 9:30 a.m. April 10 to discuss it.
If county commissioners approve, the petition will make its way back to Sunbury Village Council for a final decision. Council must wait 60 days before discussing and deciding if the village will annex the property.