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A word about Annexations…
The annexation of township land into Municipal Corporations creates a different set of circumstances that must be addressed to ascertain the current liquor status. In this case, it is necessary to research both the precinct history of the township prior to the annexation and the precinct history of the corporation prior to annexation because Ohio law throws us a curve-ball here. DRY land annexed to a corporation and placed into a WET precinct takes on the current WET liquor status of the corporation’s precinct IF those lands were uninhabited at the time of annexation. A local liquor option election is unnecessary in these situations.
You read that correctly! In the case of annexations, the most recent local option affecting the lands annexed DOES NOT always determine the current liquor status IF that land was uninhabited at the time the annexation was accepted through ordinance by the municipal corporation. This exemption to local option DOES NOT APPLY to any municipal corporation area that was uninhabited and realigned to be placed into another ward or precinct. Now let’s discuss what this actually means.
The term inhabited is always taken literally by the division of liquor control to mean any one person who may have lived on the annexed land upon annexation. If one exists, the land remains DRY. On the other hand, if the annexation was comprised solely of cornfields without any inhabitable structures (i.e. farmhouses, mobile homes or any other structure that permits occupancy) the land may be considered WET without voter approval of a local option election if the precinct it has been placed in is also WET. Annexations are viewed in their entirety by the Division of Liquor Control. A permit premise site that was uninhabited because it occupies a few parcels on 2 acres of a 340 acre annexation will not qualify for the local option exemption if at least one resident can be found on the other 338 acres included in the annexation. Unfortunately, it is the responsibility of the permit applicant to point-out to the division that the area in question may qualify for a §4301.401(B) exemption and provide all supporting documentation.
Documenting an annexation to be uninhabited can be difficult. Upon receipt of an applicant’s request to consider the local option exemption, the division of liquor control will launch an investigation to determine the validity of the request. Petitioners who find themselves in this situation should consult Professional Assistance.
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