Thursday, May 24, 2018
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Sylvania trustees mull over storm water district options

Several Sylvania Township residents urged township trustees Tuesday evening to consider seriously the idea of setting up a drainage-management district separate from one organized by Lucas County, but two of the three trustees cautioned that the process for doing so may be more complicated than it appears.

“I urge you to look at any option” that would allow the township to comply with federal Clean Water Act mandates for storm-water management in “the most cost-effective way,” said Robb Brown, the owner of 16 acres of commercial land, including several businesses, on Central Avenue. “I’ve got to believe that you can run it a lot better than the county.”

Daniel Zimmerman, a 63-year Whiteford Road resident, told trustees he doubts the township will get back full value for any money its taxpayers pay into the drainage utility that the Lucas County commissioners approved last month, and for which tax collection is to begin next spring — including an estimated $2 million annually from Sylvania Township.

“It bothers me that there is one more government entity that is taking my money and spending it where I don’t have any control,” Mr. Zimmerman said.

No decisions were made after Tuesday night’s discussion at the trustee meeting, but trustees plan to thoroughly review the issue.

Mr. Brown and Mr. Zimmerman had the ready ear of trustee Kevin Haddad, who has pushed for a township alternative to the county plan for several months on the grounds that Sylvania Township won’t get credit for work it has already done to improve drainage on several of its creeks and ditches.

But trustees Neal Mahoney and John Jennewine remained hesitant, saying care needs to be taken not to move so fast that the township ends up a lawsuit target.

“This is a complicated issue without a real easy solution,” said Mr. Jennewine, the trustees’ chairman, who added that a county-wide district including municipalities, not just townships, would be the ideal outcome.

Mr. Haddad presented a plan for a local district that estimated $188,200 in start-up costs and $265,000 in annual project expenses, including street sweeping and sewer cleaning, but acknowledged that the $18,000 line for legal fees assumed nobody objected to the idea.

Township administrator John Zeitler, meanwhile, said there were “very good points” in a letter to the township from County Engineer Keith Earley, who warned that the township would have to obtain its own federal water-quality permit before withdrawing from county coverage, “a process that would take a minimum of six months to develop,” or immediately be in violation of the Clean Water Act.

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