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Published: Wednesday, 7/15/2009

Sylvania fire-station plans draw protests

BY CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Neighbors of a site under consideration for a new fire station in Sylvania turned out in force last week to voice their opposition to the location.

The venue was a meeting of City Council's safety committee, at which Sylvania Township Administrator Hugh Thomas and Fire Chief Frederick Welsh spoke and answered questions.

The township, which handles fire protection for the city, plans to replace Station 1, at 6633 Monroe St., with a new $1.5 million, 8,000-square-foot facility.

Ideally, township officials would like to situate it to the west of the current site, where the number of calls is expected to grow. The township has been looking at an empty 1.5-acre parcel at the corner of Monroe and Parkwood Boulevard.

Chief Welsh emphasized that the project is in a preliminary stage and no decision has been made. He said the current location of Station 1 "is the default site, but we're just looking to see if we can find a better one."

The 50 neighbors at last week's meeting were unanimously opposed to locating the new fire station in the midst of their residential area. They feared their property values would fall, and they did not want to be subjected to the noise of sirens.

One of them, Richard Schroeder, said he figured his $190,000 home at 5625 Parkwood would suffer a reduction in value of $30,000 to $40,000 if the station were built at the Monroe-Parkwood location.

When he asked the audience in the council chamber if anyone favored the location, the answer was a resounding "No."

Sue Baldwin of 7120 Monroe said she too believed the fire station would devalue her property.

"I would think they could find a better place closer to businesses that are closed in the evening," she said.

Mr. Thomas said putting a new station on the Station 1 site was doable, but there were better locations.

Chief Welsh said that Station 1 had some significant drawbacks. Drivers leaving the station could not see eastbound traffic becauseof the site's elevation and often encountered traffic backups. He and Mr. Thomas acknowledged that a station could be built at a higher grade at the site.

Councilman Doug Haynam expressed pessimism that any new site in the center of the city would work.

"I think we're going to have a hard time finding a new location in the heart of Sylvania that is acceptable to our neighbors," he said.

Mr. Haynam said he preferred a site on Sylvania-Metamora Road that had been considered too far west. Other sites rejected were the Flower Hospital campus, the township hall, and the intersections of Brint and Harroun roads and of Brint and McCord roads.

If the township did decide on the Monroe-Parkwood site, it would have to apply for a special-use permit and satisfy the normal planning requirements.

This would involve public hearings, and months would pass before anything was decided, Councilman Mark Luetke said.

Contact Carl Ryan at: carlryan@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.



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