BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — What do Monclova Township residents want their community to look like in the next five or 10 years?
A survey being launched on Monday, November 9 will give the township’s 15,615 inhabitants an opportunity to weigh in on housing, land use and development, parks and recreation, infrastructure, community services and transportation.
The survey is the first step in the township’s update to its 2009 Contemporary Land Use Plan.
“The results of the survey will be valuable in helping to develop focus areas in our community and prioritize the plan’s recommendations,” writes administrator Harold Grim in an introduction to a five-minute survey that will be available at www.monclovatwp.org. It will also be shared through the Anthony Wayne Local Schools website and local homeowners’ associations.
The township has hired Glenn Grisdale, a certified planner and principal of the Bowling Green-based Reveille LTD, to lead the effort to update the plan. Grisdale has worked with a variety of communities, including Sylvania Towship, Springfield Township, Northwood and Perrysburg, to name a few.
“All of these places have done surveys and it provides us with a good perspective,” Grisdale said. “I’ve used this survey very successfully in 20 other communities. It’s quick and easy. You can do it on your phone in five minutes.”
While community surveys were utilized during the 2009 plan update, zoning administrator Eric Wagner hopes that thanks to technology improvements and the ever-growing population, the township will receive a much broader response for the 2021 update.
While residents begin answering questions such as “How would you describe Monclova Township in one word?” or “If you could make one improvement, what would it be?” the members of the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee are also doing their homework.
Its members include representatives from the township’s staff and Zoning Commission, Lucas County Department of Planning and Development, Sheriff John Tharp, county engineer Mike Pniewski and sanitary engineer Jim Shaw, as well as AWLS Superintendent Dr. Jim Fritz, developer Duane Ankney and consulting engineer Don Feller.
Unlike cities and villages, which are guided solely by their own planning commissions, townships are also governed by county planning and zoning, Grisdale explained. Having these county officials on the committee not only helps in dovetailing the township into the county, but it also provides expertise when looking at proposed improvements.
“You can sketch up a plan, but water, sewer, roundabouts and roads all matter,” Grisdale said.
For example, in the 2009 plan, a town center was recommended for the intersection of Monclova Road and Waterville-Monclova Road. No action has been taken, as the infrastructure is not in place. If the community overwhelmingly sees this as a priority, county experts can outline the steps and costs needed to make it happen.
“We’d look at what parcels might be in play. We’d work with the county engineer and sanitary engineer to figure out where the downtown footprint could be and what parcels would be in play for additional development,” Grisdale said.
Another area of focus will likely include the future interchange at I-475 and US 20A. The committee will look at ways to manage the look so it’s not a repeat of Central Avenue or Airport Highway.
“If it’s coming this way, let’s try to make it more interesting and inviting,” Grisdale said.
He’ll also urge the committee to look at connectivity, such as bike paths, sidewalks and roadways. For instance, is there access between subdivisions or do residents need to get in a car and drive to another neighborhood?
Speaking of neighborhoods, what do residents want: condos, senior living, apartments, single-family homes or none of the above?
As a community that’s remained rural yet grown rapidly with housing, Grisdale said he can see a cultural divide. Some want agricultural space to remain but get frustrated when farmers sell to open up more land for housing developments. Others want to move into a development and then stop future housing from being added. At the same time, it’s understandable that the school leadership would want more commercial growth to support the tax base.
Some who move to the township do so for the open spaces but expect the same level of services offered by municipalities that generate revenue from income taxes – something the township isn’t permitted to do.
Grisdale expects to hear these types of responses from Monclova Township residents. His goal is to educate and inform, then help the committee work through a plan that shows how to achieve those goals.
“We want to put together plans that get people excited, yet are practical and feasible,” Grisdale said.
The survey will remain open throughout the nearly yearlong duration of the plan update. Grisdale expects that by January, most of the variety of comments will have been shared through the survey.
By August, he expects to have a printed draft of the plan, which will then be re-viewed by the steering committee, the township’s zoning commission, the county planning commission and then back to the township level – with opportunities for review and comment at each step.
While the process seems arduous, Wagner said it will serve as a guide each time township officials are faced with a request for a zoning change or a future project.
“It helps when planning the efficient allocation of township resources and in guiding future growth,” Wagner said.