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Published: Thursday, 2/9/2006

Split of township, villages is denied

A Lucas County common pleas judge has ruled that petitions submitted by Waterville Township residents trying to separate the villages of Whitehouse and Waterville from the township were invalid.

"I'm quite happy with the decision," said Tony Urbas, a township resident who has run for trustee.

Last February, Mr. Urbas and Tim Pedro, a former trustee, appealed a decision by Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Robert Christiansen that the villages could be removed from the township.

Mr. Urbas said they thought the judge did not rule on all the issues in the case.

The appeal was dismissed in June, and the case was sent to Common Pleas Judge Denise Ann Dartt.

Judge Dartt dismissed all claims on Jan. 27, citing an Ohio law that requires petitioners asking to exclude a municipality from a township to include maps "accurately setting forth such territory."

"It is crucial that the electors know and affirmatively express what they are signing or voting for when they sign the petition," she wrote in her decision.

Under state law, the county commissioners must approve removing the villages from the township if a majority of property owners who are registered voters in the unincorporated area sign a petition for the removal.

If the villages were separated, village residents could not vote on township matters, including new tax levies.

Mr. Pedro, who was elected trustee in 2001 and lost a campaign for re-election in November, is a resident of Waterville village and a former village councilman.

The drive for separation began after he was elected in 2001, when residents petitioned the county commissioners to remove the villages from the township. The commissioners rejected the petition but sent a second attempt in 2003 to the court.

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