In the latest salvo in a years-long fight over annexation, Perrysburg Township officials insisted last night that they are trying to negotiate a deal with the city of Perrysburg to end the bickering, and they presented a tentative deal to prove it.
Township trustees called a special meeting in part to show residents what they termed a tentative agreement on major points in the debate - points they said were hammered out at a Holiday Inn meeting Dec. 8.
The pact appears to mirror much of a tentative deal reached in March that never was signed. The agreement calls for the city to stop trying to force some township homeowners to annex into the city. It also includes tax sharing for annexed property and city fire protection for township residents west of I-75.
A key difference in the two pacts: the township would lease, not sell, the city its fire station on Fort Meigs Road for $1 a year. The pact still calls for the city to take over fire protection of all township areas west of I-75.
The presentation was made a week after city council members complained that the township appeared to be dragging its feet in solving the long-running debate.
Township Trustee Bill Miller said the opinion came as a surprise. “We thought everything was going fine, and then we got blindsided,” he told about 35 people who attended the meeting.
The annexation battle has heated up in past years as the city has sued nearly 400 residents in the Oak Meadows and Oakmont subdivisions, and residents along East River Road.
The residents were given city water and sewer hookups, and the city claimed that part of the deal required the residents to agree to be annexed.
Last month, a Defiance County judge - called in to hear the consolidated Wood County cases - ruled in favor of the residents, who don't want to annex.
In the meantime, the township extended sewer lines to the residents, reversing the flow of sewage from Perrysburg to Toledo's wastewater treatment plant. The pact would send the sewage back to Perrysburg.
Trustee Nathan Hagemeister said he and township solicitor Phil Dombey met with Perrysburg Mayor Jody Holbrook and city law director Peter Gwyn at the hotel for several hours to discuss the dispute.
Mr. Hagemeister said they reached the deal orally, with the goal of each body passing a basic agreement in early January. Mr. Dombey typed it up and the township employees suggested more provisions.
Mr. Hagemeister said he believed Mr. Dombey since has discussed the agreement with Mr. Gwyn. Mr. Dombey was out of town last night and unavailable for comment.
Mr. Gwyn referred calls to Mayor Holbrook, who could not be reached for comment.
But, a week ago, Mr. Gwyn said that while talks with the township were encouraging, the township had not publicly supported the city's issues. He said that left the city in an “uncomfortable position” of not making progress toward solving the annexation debate.
In other business, the trustees voted 3-0 to place a lien on property owned by the Rossford Arena Amphitheater Authority.
The township loaned the authority $5 million in tax dollars - with no collateral - to jump-start construction of a hockey arena and concert amphitheater off U.S. 20 last year.
The project stalled after the authority couldn't get permanent financing. Despite dropping the arena, it still is having trouble getting financing. Trustees have balked at suing the authority for fear it would officially kill the project and any hopes the township has of seeing a penny of its money. The lien, while officially acknowledging the debt, doesn't force the authority to court.