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Published: Saturday, 1/3/2004

New trustees revoke master plan for Springfield Twp. land use

A master land-use plan adopted unanimously by Springfield Township trustees in August as a guide to curtailing spotty development was rescinded yesterday by the new board of trustees.

The board also fired the Michigan consulting firm overseeing the master plan process.

Marylin Yoder, elected chairman of the board at yesterday s early morning meeting, said she considered the adoption of the land-use plan “less than a final decision” because it left room for additions by the Springfield school board and other governmental bodies.

Andy Glenn, a newly elected trustee who was uncontested for the seat formerly occupied by Susan Meek, contends that the document had not properly gained the approval of the township s zoning commission, of which he was a member.

He said the commission voted at a meeting that was called specifically for comments from the public, and that the master plan has not been approved by the Lucas County Planning Commission. The trustees plan to resubmit the document for county review.

Bob Bethel, a trustee who approved the plan, said the document had been approved properly and that he considered its adoption to be valid.

He noted that the steering committee - which had spent about a year developing the plan through public hearings, committee meetings with township and county officials and the public, a written questionnaire to township residents, and a telephone survey - approved it, as had the board of trustees.

A month ago, the trustees decided that county approval was unnecessary. They cited an Ohio attorney general s opinion that township plans prevail if there is a conflict with county master plans.

Stephen Herwat, head of the county plan commission, said his staff would use the township s most recent master plan when evaluating development requests for property in that jurisdiction. His staff had recommended that the panel adopt the township plan.

But Mr. Bethel told his fellow trustees yesterday, “If you want to change it, you ve got your two votes to do that.”

Mrs. Yoder and Mr. Glenn voted to rescind the master plan and Mr. Bethel voted against the motion.

Trustees voted by the same 2-1 margin to cut ties with the consulting firm of Beckett and Raeder, Inc., of Ann Arbor, which had been hired to help develop the master plan.

Bob Anderson, township administrator, was instructed to contact the firm and ask for a final accounting for their work. The consultants also reviewed applications for zoning changes.

John Iacoangeli of Beckett & Raeder didn t respond yesterday to a call for comment.

Mrs. Meek, contacted after yesterday s meeting, said, “This is the moment I hoped would not happen. Here it is, just Jan. 2, and already I m being asked for a comment on something negative.”

Mrs. Meek, involved in township politics since 1994, was instrumental in developing the land-use plan. She said she doesn t know what Mr. Glenn s reasons are for voting as he did, but considers Mrs. Yoder s vote a “betrayal.”

She said Mrs. Yoder had been one of the trustees who voted to initiate the development of a master plan, to fund it, and was involved in the process that developed the plan.

The master plan adopted by the former board reflected many residents desires to have a planned and urbanized township rather than a “poster child of urban sprawl,” Mrs. Meek has said.

Residents requested retaining open space and expanding township parks, as well as possibly forming a joint recreation district with other entities to make land purchases and maintenance more affordable.

Mrs. Yoder said the new board needs to address establishing an agricultural district, which was recommended in the nullified plan. The district would prohibit development in areas south of Airport Highway in the western part of the township and affect land used for agricultural purposes.

The township s master plan had not been revised since 1993. A newer version was approved by township trustees in 1999, but was rejected by the Lucas County commissioners, so it has not been used.



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