Friday, Apr 20, 2018
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Sylvania mulls joint growth director

A proposal that one person be hired to act as economic development director for Sylvania and Sylvania Township is worth pursuing, a Sylvania City Council committee has decided, although some members said there may be “potential problems” with the plan.

The idea was recently raised by officers of the area's Community Improvement Corporation, which soon may reorganize.

Gary Madrzykowski, president of the group, said if the proposal is realized, more funding would be needed to hire a professional.

Although the city and township cooperate in many areas, they have fought bitter and expensive annexation battles to capture tax revenue from new area developments.

Sylvania Law Director Jim Moan told the council committee that anyone who would take the job, if it is created, would have to walk a tightrope if an enterprise was to land “in the danger zone.”

That zone generally would be on the boundary between the governments, particularly if the new business would be in the township, but dependent on receiving water from the city.

Sylvania has demanded in the past that those who use the city water system must annex to the city.

Committee member and Sylvania City Council president Keith Haddad said that having a single economic developer might be a means of dealing with potential problems early and not having them escalate into a lawsuit.

If the position is created, the person would be employed by the corporation, but with funding for the job coming largely from the city and township. There would be representatives from both on the corporation board. The director, essentially, would still be trying to please two masters who are sometimes at war.

Council members noted that if a large project is landed for an area in Sylvania Township, they want it clear that city staffers, such as the finance, service, and law offices, won't be expected to provide services.

Councilman Patrick Kriner said the process is still in its early stages and that funding for such a position and specific qualifications have not yet been put in place.

Mr. Haddad said the process likely will move next to a council committee-of-the-whole hearing with representatives of the corporation.

Both city and township leaders have said they generally favor the idea, but all note potential problems in putting it into effect.

One problem is a basic difference between the two entities.

Sylvania is essentially developed with almost no vacant land, but a growing need for redevelopment.

The township has some areas ready to be redeveloped, but also large tracts of undeveloped land particularly in the west.

Officials have said that not only will the person need skills to deal with the sometimes-competing interests of the two governments, but the ability to work both in development and redevelopment.

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