Thursday, May 24, 2018
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Sylvania: Annexation concerns spur talks

A request for a moratorium on Sylvania's annexation efforts within Sylvania Township has spurred the two governments to consider talking about their differences.

Trustees penned a letter to the Lucas County Commissioners asking for the delay.

There is a perception on the part of some in the township that the city policy of annexation is "predatory" and that could be softened if discussions are held, said councilman Mark Luetke.

Members of the council's annexation and zoning committee said they were unsure what might come of such talks, but Mr. Luetke said that at least the issue might be better clarified.

The trustees' letter came in the wake of an annexation action by the city to take about 11 acres at Little Road that is being developed for residential use.

The city has acknowledged that its ultimate purpose is to use that land as a bridge for annexation of possible future commercial property along Centennial Road.

To annex, the city needs property adjoining an annexation target, and taking the Little Road development into the city limits will allow for that.

Jim Moan, city law director, told committee members the city does not solicit property owners to seek annexation but does hold to its policy that if landowners want city water, they must annex.

Although the township seeks a moratorium on annexation, Mr. Moan said he doesn't think the city should put itself in a position of turning away requests by those who want to be part of Sylvania.

He added that it would be unfair to the developers of the Little Road property to stop the proceeding, which would leave that area without access to water.

The property was the subject of numerous hearings before developers reduced plans from building 160 units to construction of 40 housing units. Township trustees approved the rezoning, and now the developer is asking to be annexed to the city.

The trustees' letter, which also went to the Sylvania mayor and members of council, says the issue has been the "center of much controversy" between the two governments.

Although the township will not interfere with requests for annexation from property owners who want to be in Sylvania, it does object to the city's mandate that there be annexation in order to obtain utilities.

Both jurisdictions, the letter notes, are discussing an update of the Sylvania Community Land Use Plan, and a moratorium on annexation would be "a great initiative reflecting an increased level of cooperation."

Doug Haynam, chairman of the council committee, said he has talked informally with two of the trustees and they are trying to come to some decisions involving long-range planning.

He said annexation can be a problem in that effort if they think "we're going to gobble up all of the western part of the township."

That's not in the offing, but Mr. Haynam said a discussion might help the trustees better understand the city's position and make efforts at long-range planning a little easier.

Mayor Craig Stough said the city's annexation policy hasn't prevented the two governments from cooperating.

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