Elmore: Annexation hearing going before commissioners

By: 
Larry Limpf

A hearing to consider a petition to annex 7.13 acres from Harris Township to the Village of Elmore is scheduled for May 23 at the township hall, 321 Rice St., at 6:30 p.m.
The Ottawa County commissioners will decide the annexation request that covers about 20 parcels along West Portage River South Road.
A notice from the village to township residents along the road indicates some were reluctant to be annexed. It states the residents didn’t comply with an agreement to annex and the village was prepared to stop providing sewer service to the properties unless the owners complied with the agreement.
The village would have allowed them 60 days to disconnect from the municipal sewer system and connect to an alternative wastewater treatment system.
“We deeply regret that the situation has deteriorated to this extent; however, other properties have annexed under similar situations, and some of your neighbors have agreed to annex. Therefore, we cannot, in good faith, hold them to their commitments while allowing you to ignore yours,” the letter says.
Mayor Matt Damschroder said recently that the affected residents signed agreements when they tapped into the village’s sanitary sewer system that they would not contest annexation. He said the issue has been going on for 12 years.
The property owners being annexed are paying a 50 percent surcharge above what village residents pay for the sewer service but that will be dropped when the annexation is completed, according to the village utilities office.
Dan Laity, whose property will be annexed, said he isn’t opposed to annexation but questions the “structure of the deal.”
He and his wife signed an agreement for sewer service in September 2005. The agreement calls for them to pay for the extension of any water and/or sewer lines to their property but it doesn’t include a cost structure for any extensions.
With that section of the contract agreement left blank, Laity wonders what obligation property owners like him have to pay for extension costs.
“My contention is that if the village expected us to pay for it all the contract should have included specifics – or that portion of the contract should have been worded differently,” Laity said. “By simply leaving it blank – in a contract the village has worked vigorously to enforce – there are quite literally no provisions for us to pay for the infrastructure. That is the point I seek to make with the commissioners.
“But the Ohio Revised Code on annexation states that we must receive the same services as other residents. So, if we are not responsible for installing a fire hydrant then the village is.”
Also, a section of an ordinance adopted by village council in March of this year that spells out the other municipal services to be provided to the annexed properties appears to conflict with his agreement, he said.
“I think this needs to be modified to be equitable and fair for all parties,” Laity said.

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