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Published: Wednesday, 5/9/2007

Sylvania nearing 'strategic' purchase Mayor says land would aid appeal

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A quarter-acre of land isn't much. But Sylvania is on the verge of acquiring a parcel in a "very strategic location in town" that could help the city develop the kind of gateway corridor concept it has envisioned between U.S. 23 and downtown, Mayor Craig Stough said this week.

His comments came following the Sylvania City Council's decision Monday to buy the property at 5952 W. Alexis Rd. from Forest and Erma Shumway for $36,800.

The land is at U.S. 23 and Monroe Street, near the former site of the city's water tower that at one time was a local landmark. Its location makes it ideal for enhancing an entryway project or for other purposes, Mr. Stough said.

The gateway concept is one that aims to make downtown Sylvania and surrounding areas more appealing to would-be shoppers and visitors with a redesign of the business community.

The city has been working with an Ann Arbor consultant on ideas for enhancing the area through better roads, lighting, landscaping, and other street improvements.

The council voted unanimously, after meeting in executive session, to buy the land. A house on the property that was damaged by fire a few months ago will be razed by the current property owners, city officials said.

Mr. Stough said the property could be used for public improvements or for future commercial development, even if it's not incorporated into a future gateway project.

Also Monday, the council voted unanimously to approve legislation that requires all swimming pools with water levels greater than 18 inches to be enclosed by fences at least four feet in height.

The ordinance existed previously, Councilman Haynam said, but questions existed about whether it could be enforced. The amended ordinance should clarify responsibilities of property owners, he said.

The regulation does not apply to fish ponds or decorative pools of water, Mr. Haynam said.

The council also voted 5-2 to spend $1,000 to support the Sylvania Area Chamber of Commerce's arts and crafts festival.

The festival draws about 35,000 people annually and is marking its 50th anniversary this year.

The chamber is seeking financial support to help pay costs associated with expanding the fine arts area and for advertising the event.

Councilman Mark Luetke supported the expenditure, but expressed reservations about taking requests from community organizations on a piecemeal basis.

The city has an established process for organizations to present funding requests at the first of the year, he said.

Councilmen Doug Haynam and John Borell, Jr. voted no, saying that process needs to be followed.



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