A Lucas County Common Pleas judge has ruled in favor of Waterville Township residents who petitioned the county to remove the villages of Waterville and Whitehouse from the township.
Judge Robert Christiansen said a state law allows townships to remove the municipalities they encompass if a majority of the property holders in the township's unincorporated area petition for the change.
"This is a first-round victory for the petitioners," Walter Celley, Waterville Township solicitor, said. "It's a key decision."
A group of residents asked in 2003 that the county commissioners create new boundaries for Waterville Township that would exclude the villages of Waterville and Whitehouse.
Anton Urbas, Jr., and Timothy Pedro, a Waterville resident who was elected a township trustee in 2001, opposed the petitioners. They claimed state law violates the rights of non-property holders, such as apartment renters and residents in the municipal parts of townships.
Judge Christiansen dismissed that argument, saying property owners have a greater stake in township governance because they are the only ones who pay taxes. He also rejected the claim that municipal residents should have a say in township boundaries, arguing that the purpose of the state law "is to permit township residents to achieve self-government."