Monday, Apr 23, 2018
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Sylvania gets go-ahead to annex township land

Lucas County commissioners yesterday approved Sylvania's petition to annex 1.3 acres of Sylvania Township just east of Olander Park.

The decision was made under new expedited-annexation laws, implemented about a month ago, that take some of the decision-making power out of commissioners' hands.

Instead, if the petitioners meet specific requirements, the commission must approve the annexation.

“Under the old law, you could always look for what is the good of the territory; that was a catchall that gave discretion for the county commissioners,” said Jim Moan, Sylvania city law director.

The regulations eliminate much of the discussion that came from sometimes lengthy annexation hearings as petitioners argued for or against annexations. Before the new laws, this case would not have passed so easily.

Sandy Isenberg, president of the board of commissioners, said she would have voted against the annexation because the property creates an island of Sylvania Township land surrounded by the city.

The land is east of Olander, north of Sylvania Avenue and west of Franklin Drive.

Among the rules for expedited annexation are that 100 percent of landowners must want to be annexed, and the area to be annexed cannot surround an unannexed area. That means if a circle of families want to be annexed, but one family inside the circle doesn't, then the group can't go before the commission asking for expedited annexing.

The annexed land meets the standard because no township property exists solely within the annexed area.

Two property owners, Olander Park and Mercurio Developers, Inc., signed the annexation petition.

Sylvania wants to incorporate some areas in order to smooth out boundary lines, Mr. Moan said.

David Simko, annexation attorney for Sylvania Township, said the township opposes any annexation the city forces on landowners because they use city water or sewer services.

He intends to discuss further options with township trustees, he said, but could not comment on the next step the township may take.

The approval of the petition probably means that more expedited cases will appear before the commissioners, lawyers said.

Mr. Moan said the city probably would apply for expedited annexation whenever it's warranted.

The annexation statutes are being challenged, and as of one month ago not all counties were using them.

Although the statute facilitates certain kinds of annexation, Mr. Borell said that other types of annexation, when not all parties agree to be annexed, become more difficult.

Yesterday's meeting was the last before the end of the fiscal year, and commissioners approved spending more than $10 million next year for services for needy county residents.

Combined with other spending, that still meant $3.5 million less for Lucas County Job and Family Services, which dispenses economic aid, like food stamps and Medicaid. “There's never enough money. We try to do as much as we can do with what we've got,” Ms. Isenberg said.

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