Sylvania City Council Finds A New Way To Annex Township: WATER!!!!

When the attempt to annex Sylvania Township failed last fall, the folks at OneSylvania knew it would be three years before another attempt at a merger could take place. But Doug Haynam, a OneSylvania proponent and Sylvania City Council member, has already found a way to usurp the will of Sylvania Township residents. Hold them hostage for water!

Sylvania City Council has passed ordinance 11-2009. If you live outside the city limits, but inside the Sylvania City Water service area, and want to get city water, it now comes at a cost. That cost? You must agree to annexation by the City. Not necessarily now, but if that knock comes at your door, you have no choice. According to this ordinance, you MUST sign the petition, if requested by the city. If you wish to sell all or part of your property in the future, you must ensure that the purchaser enter into a similar agreement.

Those who wish to tap into Sylvania City Water (which really is Toledo water), must pay to tap into the system, and pay a monthly rate far above what Toledo charges for the same water. If annexed, the same household will be subject to Sylvania City Income Tax. And as a result of the new agreement between Mayors Stough and Finkbeiner, 40% of that new revenue goes to One Government Center.

The folks in Sylvania Township made it clear last fall that they did not wish to be annexed. Doug Haynam and the rest of City Council had an opportunity to open dialog with the Township and find a way to work together. Instead they've used the backdoor to continue to annex the township and impose more taxes on township residents. Once again, the city shows that it's all about finding new people to tax.....

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for the post MTTB.

Townships and municipalities have different purposes and roles and deliver different services.

One role of municipal government is to provide water. This is not a role of township government.

If a property owner wants municipal services, then annex to a municipality. If that property owner doesn't want the burden and duties that are part of a municipality, then remain in the township and find another source of water, such as drilling a well.

Property owners shouldn't expect to have it both ways.

the Mayor of Sylvania took a page out of the Toledo/Carty book of how to get your way when the voters say NO!

Say no to annexation? Then say no to water!

Again, you can't have it both ways?

Voters say no? Fine! Then let the voters drill a well!

That's not entirely true.

I live in Sylvania Township, but my water is provided by the County. My bill comes directly from the City of Toledo, not from Sylvania.

Looks like the annexation issue had different consequences for township residents who get their water through the city vs. the county. Doesn't seem entirely fair.

(Though I'm glad at least my water comes on county lines...)

I live in Sylvania Township, but my water is provided by the County.

Thanks, Sarah. I don't know how many Township residents are aware of this, but there might be something that can be done about the water situation.

Mad Jack
Mad Jack's Shack

Not exactly..... Township residents are paying for the service. They are paying for the hookup, and paying the monthly rate for the water. Does the City ask city residents do give up their property rights in order to get a water hookup? They do not.

But perhaps it is time for the Township to play Tit-For-Tat. The township provides fire service to the City. If the City is going to annex township land, then perhaps the cost that the City pays needs to rise exponentially every time the City grabs another chunk. After all, the City is taking property tax revenue away from the Township with every grab, making it harder to fund services, right?

What's good for the goose is good for the gander... I'm just saying....

As the ratio between city and township changes, so too should the funding of joint services. Or stop providing joint services if it isn't beneficial to both parties.

Doug Haynam's underhanded antics come as no surprise to me. The hostage issue has been going on for a long time, ever since Sylvania extended its water service outside the boundaries of the city limits and the Township trustees turned a blind eye to the entire process.

There are several things the Sylvania Township trustees could do about this. For one thing, Lucas county might be persuaded to extend county water pipes further into Sylvania Township. For another, the Sylvania Township trustees control zoning and building within the township to a large degree. Here's a clue straight from the clue bat: Stop building stuff! Now!

I'd like to hear from the Township trustees about just how they are going to handle this - mainly, not just how they are going to put a stop to it, but how they intend to reclaim some of the land that has been annexed by the city of Sylvania via coercion.

Mad Jack
Mad Jack's Shack

1. The city government does not contract with the township for fire service; the township provides the services and has the ability to levy property tax (after voter approval) on city property owners because the city has never removed themselves from the township's borders. The township trustees can not charge the city more for the fire service under the current structure.

2. Water is not a 'city' service. Many counties control the water in certain areas, as opposed to the ruling city (Toledo) as is the case in Lucas County. A significant portion of the township does receive water via county-owned lines, and those properties have no threat of annexation from the City of Sylvania.

3. While I'm always open to ideas on how to protect township living while maintaining a certain level of civility with the city, I'm not sure there is a whole lot that can be done. Sylvania was given permission eons ago (I think early 1970's) to set up a water district/ I believe this was approved by Toledo but I'm not certain. Why/how that district included part of the township, I don't know. Good forethought on the part of the city? Maybe. I'm not sure anyone can say they expected the township to be what it is today 40 years ago. I don't think you can say the township trustees turned a blind eye to this years ago; I think the legal ramifications were not apparent because the law on this issue has evolved, including the Perrysburg v. Bakies decision that is only a few years old which allows forced annexation upon the threat of water termination.

It's not a matter of not building any more; most of the areas at issue are almost fully developed at this point.
While some of the annexation waivers that are on file go back 20 years or more, the Bakies decision made annexation waivers irrelevant, so the only issue is where does a home/business get their water bill and will the city force annexation?

While the township carefully reviews every annexation petition that comes thru, there is little we can do. The reality is that it is up to the property owner to make the decision on what to do ... have water or remain in the township. It is up to the city if they choose to have hostile residents/property owners by forced annexation. Clearly there are some that choose to annex, and some who are reluctant but do it anyway.

While the option of having the county extend water lines is interesting, it is not feasible for various reasons, mainly that although a property owner pays to put the water lines in the ground and pays a tap fee ... once the lines are dedicated to public use they are owned by the city. The only way to get county water to every home would be to lay new water lines to each and every house. The cost would be horrendous, the mess to property to lay pipe unsightly, and there would be vast disagreements among neighbors about whether or not to do it.

But let me also add that the language the city council has added, so I am told, only codifies their policy on annexation. It will be a matter of wait-and-see as to whether or not they will set off down the road of hostile annexation or maintain the status quo which has been in place since the Kroger annexation several years ago.

The reality is that state law favors municipalities in a variety of ways, including the assumption that people should live in cities. If you want that to change, and therefore change the biased annexation and water laws, write your state representatives and demand it be changed. That is the only way to guarantee that we preserve the township way of life. Otherwise I'll continue to oppose force annexation, but there is little I can do as township trustee.

It will be a matter of wait-and-see as to whether or not they will set off down the road of hostile annexation or maintain the status quo which has been in place since the Kroger annexation several years ago.

Who are you trying to kid, me or you? The annexation policy of the city of Sylvania has always been hostile. Given the 'merger' vote, annexation couldn't get any more hostile unless the city sent the Sylvania SWAT team over with a petition in one hand and an M16 in the other.

Of course, now that you and the other two trustees have seen fit to combine the two police forces, I'm beginning to wonder just when a scenario like this might move from hyperbole into reality.

Let me be the first person (possibly ever) to remind you that you were not elected to provide answers like "I don't know" and "nothing can be done". If writing the Ohio State senate is one step in the right direction, then I want to know if your letter to the senate will be posted today or tomorrow.

Mad Jack
Mad Jack's Shack

Madjack - I apologize if you have misunderstood what we have done with our police SRT; I thought the media articles were clear but maybe not. We have not combined our police departments; we have entered in to a joint Strategic Response Team agreement so that we can combine our forces, training and manpower for unique situations where a swat-team-like response is called for. All members of the SRT team are employed, insured, deployed and answers to the separate departments except when the team is called in to action for whatever purpose, at which time they answer to the command officer, but are still employed and insured by the separate department. This allows both communities to have SRT response quickly, at an efficient cost, while providing back up to both communities. We work with the city when it benefits both communities, but we don cede power to them.

With regard to the annexation policy ... going back to the Kroger annexation which was started (I believe) in early 2000 and ended sometime in 2005, that is the last court-battle fought annexation because some of the property owners did not want to be annexed. In fact, the city dropped Farmbrook from the petition because the residents were so outspoken against it. This is what I term 'hostile' annexation. Since that time, the city has annexed only those that have asked to be annexed - no arm-twisting that I am aware of, although if the resident doesn't come to us and tell us, we don't know because the city does have their signature. We file a protest where appropriate. It's up to the county commissioners to grant or deny the annexation and they have the law to follow. Some recent annexations include a neighborhood where some residents were not happy with the township over fire issues (p.s., they are still protected by the township fire department so I'm not sure what they accomplished) and a business owner who didn't want to follow our sign regulations. The city's policy may be hostile on its face; how they implement that policy may not be.

As far as a letter to the state senate, I have been in contact with both our state representative and state senator on numerous township issues, including annexation (but will admit to not writing a letter specifically about annexation). At the same time, both of these elected officials represent city residents as well, so just because we (the township) have concerns doesn't mean we get things changed. In fact, it was only 5-6 years ago when the annexation law was overhauled to make it easier for cities to annex while trying to preserve some of the township tax revenue, so to do an overhaul of the issue again this soon (which a huge about-face making it harder), I just don't see as likely. With the many issues facing the township today, I choose to focus my attention on issue that are productive and areas where we can improve township services and quality of life (like fire, police and road service). Other issues such as annexation I look at a cost/benefit analysis: what are the chances of 'winning' vs. what is the cost (in both time and cash).

Although I am an elected official, I am not omnipotent. When asked what the city will do, I will likely say "I don't know"; if asked what am I going to do, after consulting legal council, I may very well say "nothing can be done" because that may very well be what the law allows us. I'm not going to lie and say we can fix this problem or we can work it out or we have options, if in fact none of that is true.

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