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Perrysburg, township said near accord on annexation

The Perrysburg Township trustees and members of Perrysburg city council will hold a joint special meeting Thursday that finally might lead to the end of a long-running dispute involving annexation.

Township Solicitor Phil Dombey said last night that he expects an agreement to be reached during the rare joint meeting in the city's council chambers, scheduled at 5:30 p.m.

“We're very optimistic, and so is city council,” Mr. Dombey said during last night's meeting of the township trustees.

Reached later, Peter Gwyn, Perrysburg law director, agreed.

“I'm optimistic. We've been meeting for I don't know how long, and it seems there may be some basis for an agreement,” Mr. Gwyn said.

He declined to predict what might happen at the special joint meeting, explaining that he would have a better idea after tonight's regular council meeting. Mr. Gwyn said he expects council to go into executive session to discuss the matter.

As it now exists, he said, the agreement would not put off all annexation, but the city would drop annexation efforts involving nearly 400 Perrysburg Township residents in the Oakmont and Oak Meadows subdivisions and along East River Road.

Township and city officials have been meeting since late January, after township residents urged the trustees to do whatever it takes to resolve the differences.

Many of those township residents had received letters from Perrysburg telling them that they must annex to the city or face termination of their sanitary sewer service.

The city later suspended action because of the new round of talks.

Mr. Dombey and Mr. Gwyn said the proposed agreement would encompass the eight points that were covered in a tentative pact that fell apart last year.

That deal would have ended annexation lawsuits against 300 homeowners in the Oakmont and Oak Meadows subdivisions and 71 property owners along East River Road.

In addition, the agreement called for a review of the city's annexation policy, and provided for shared revenue on land annexed for commercial and industrial uses. Also in the earlier agreement was a plan for mutual fire protection and the use of fire facilities and equipment west of I-75, which would save the city about $2 million because it would not have to build its own fire station there.

The township has a fire station on Fort Meigs Road, south of I-475, while the city's fire division is downtown on Indiana Avenue.

The tentative agreement last year stalled out over the details of how to implement some of the points, according to Trustee Bill Miller.

“We're a lot better off if we can reach an agreement and move forward collectively,” Mr. Dombey said. He estimated that legal fees related to the annexation lawsuits have topped $1 million over the last several years.

Trustee Richard Britten indicated the situation remained volatile as recently as last week. “We all want an agreement - but last Friday, it changed three times in one day,” he said.

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