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Published: Saturday, 9/13/2008

Initiative on merger panel is protested

BY ANGIE SCHMITT
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Sylvania Township trustees have filed a formal protest with the Lucas County Board of Elections seeking to remove from the Nov. 4 ballot a voter initiative to establish a commission to develop a plan to merge the city of Sylvania with the township.

The trustees contend that a residency issue has invalidated a petitions signed by 2,498 residents of the township and the city of Sylvania.

County election officials certified the signatures Aug. 28 and placed the matter on the general election ballot.

In their protest, trustees point to the recent annexation of the Country Walk Commons condominium complex. The neighborhood is home to commissioner candidate Sam Steinman, one of five candidates chosen to represent the township.

Sylvania City Council approved the annexation of the neighborhood into the city on Sept. 3. The change will take effect Oct. 3.

The petitions are invalid because he is actually a member of the city of Sylvania, Trustee Pam Hanley said. I think there was an attempt to tip the balance of the merger.

Lucas County Elections Director Linda Howe said the board of elections will decide the matter during a meeting at 3 p.m. Monday in Government Center.

Board members also will hear a second protest filed yesterday by township resident James T. Ad-ams, Jr., on similar grounds.

County Assistant Prosecutor John Borell said there is some ambiguity in the law with respect to the matter.

Ohio merger law states that not fewer than five electors of the township and five electors of the city be nominated to serve as commissioners.

However, it s not clear how the situation should be remedied if a candidate withdraws, dies, or is otherwise invalidated before the election, Mr. Borell said.

There is absolutely nothing to guide us on this, he said. No one is quite sure what to do with it.

Members of One Sylvania, the group responsible for circulating the petitions, have suggested that township trustees appoint a replacement for Mr. Steinman.

One Sylvania commissioner candidate, Gary Sommer, said the group had no way of knowing whether the annexation would be approved.

He questioned the trustees motivation for opposing the vote, which would only allow the group to begin developing a merger plan. A second vote would be needed to enact a merger.

If the citizens asked for this to move forward, let that measure go forward, rather than try to derail the whole effort on a technicality, he said. If there s a problem with the status of a commissioner, that problem can be dealt with.

Contact Angie Schmitt at:aschmitt@theblade.comor 419-724-6104.



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