Sylvania city council members last night accepted a challenge from Sylvania Township trustees to meet to resolve their ongoing annexation disputes.
The issue had been mired in a series of written proposals between Mayor Craig Stough and George Fanning, the chairman for the trustees.
In a letter to Mr. Stough last week, trustees suggested the issue could be solved without litigation, which would be beneficial to the community “as a whole.”
After some skepticism, council voted 5-1 to have the meeting in a closed session because it would be more productive than an open meeting and would involve discussion of pending litigation. Council members said they didn't want “grandstanding” or have it dwindle into a session with “pot shots.” No date was set.
Councilwoman Judi Young cast the dissenting vote. Ms. Young met in a lengthy closed session with trustees in 1999. The sides reached a mediated settlement with a judge, but it was later rejected by trustees.
“It's better to have it out in the open,” Ms. Young said. “There may be some honest discussion. I wouldn't be afraid to speak my mind.”
Councilman John Billis was absent.
The two sides have a history of litigation regarding annexation issues.
Trustees dismissed an appeal last week in Lucas County Common Pleas Court after losing the fight to keep the Summer Place area from being annexed.
The city prevailed in acquiring 48 acres from the township on the northwest corner of Centennial and Sylvania-Metamora roads and voted last night to accept the land.
“I don't think we had a chance of winning [the appeal],” Mr. Fanning said yesterday. “It shows good faith that we want to sit down and try to negotiate something with the city. It didn't seem like we had the interest of the people against being annexed.”
In return for dropping the Summer Place issue, trustees wanted the city to drop their court appeal to annex 95 acres south of Sylvania-Metamora Road and east and west of Centennial Road.
But the city proceeded last night to move forward on that issue, and the appeal is scheduled to be filed today in Lucas County Common Pleas Court.
“If we can reach a negotiated settlement, the legal actions can be suspended,” Mr. Stough said. “I hope that a negotiated settlement can be found. That has always been my hope.”
Still pending is the annexation issue involving 259 acres around King Road and Sylvania Avenue. The city lost that decision when commissioners rejected the request.
Some residents in the Farmbook subdivision had said they were coerced into signing the annexation petition by threats they would be defendants in a lawsuit if they refused the city.
The city removed some of the property owners but left a new Kroger Store, at King and Sylvania and Southview High School, 7225 Sylvania, east of the intersection.
The city is to file an appeal on that issue today.