An attempt by the city of Sylvania to annex about 95 acres was stymied yesterday when Lucas County commissioners, by a 2-1 vote, agreed to remove three names from the annexation petition.
Without the names, the petition to annex Sylvania Township land failed to have sufficient signatures.
Sandy Isenberg, president of the commissioners, said she voted to approve the request to remove the signatures “because I think those people had excessive pressure put on them.
“They were told they'd be sued if they didn't sign. No one wants that, with all its uncertainty.”
Commissioner Bill Copeland agreed there was undue pressure on those who signed the annexation petition.
The property owners are on land covered by a covenant that requires owners to sign an annexation petition in exchange for a tap into Sylvania's sewer system.
Commissioner Harry Barlos, who voted against the measure, said he didn't think Sylvania's actions rose to the level of coercion, as required by law.
He said one of those who asked to have their names removed complained of having to pay higher taxes. “I don't think that's sufficient to change your mind after you've signed a petition. I'm confident that a court will agree.”
James Moan, law director for Sylvania, said that it will be up to the city's council to decide whether the commissioners' action will be tested in court, but he said it is likely.
Dock Treece, a township trustee, said the commissioners' vote should be a message to township residents who don't want to be annexed that coming forward to testify at hearings can stop annexation.
Commissioners yesterday also approved a payment of $35,000 to the Toledo-Lucas County health department so it can continue its “Shots for Tots” program.
Each commissioner chided the state government for reducing grant funds that have supported the program. In the last five years the local program has provided more than 58,000 free vaccinations to almost 20,000 children.
Mr. Copeland said state reductions in funding for various programs seem small on a case-by-case basis “but it's becoming a big financial hit to counties across the state.”
Commissioners approved a $50,000 payment to the county's soil and water conservation district to expand educational programs at Quarry Pond Farm in Waterville Township.