BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Monclova Township residents want a community that’s connected and sustainable, with a downtown that provides opportunities for social interaction.
Through a survey and stakeholder interviews, the Comprehensive Plan Update Committee obtained a clear picture of how residents want to see the township evolve, consultant Glenn Grisdale told Monclova Township’s board of trustees on February 22.
Input collected from 827 residents, area stakeholders and county and township experts was considered during the yearlong process to update to plan, which will serve as a roadmap for future planning, Grisdale told trustees.
Creating an “Olde Town Monclova” downtown area emerged as a priority. Consulting an old plat map from when commercial buildings and homes lined the street across from Monclova School, Grisdale had a designer create a “pie in the sky” rendering to show what the downtown could look like in the future. Two-story, historically inspired buildings front a Monclova Road that has a boulevard and a mini roundabout. In the back is a parking area and green space with access to Swan Creek.
The challenge in developing the downtown is the lack of adequate sanitary sewer line, trustees agree. Lucas County Sanitary Engineer Jim Shaw estimated in 2016 that the cost to replace the line between Blystone Ditch and Swan Creek would be $1.5 million. Shaw will come to the Monday, March 21 meeting to answer questions, including whether the county has any funds to contribute toward the project. The sewer line is one of four projects trustees are considering for the use of its $1.3 million in American Rescue Plan funds.
The plan also reflects residents’ desire for connectivity, Grisdale said, pointing out the social aspect of connecting the Monclova Community Center, downtown and parks through bike lanes, sidewalks and the Wabash Cannonball Trail.
“That’s a big draw for this community,” he said, explaining that residents are more active.
Bike lanes could be added as roads are repaired, and sidewalks and walking paths could be added by developers as communities are created or expanded.
One surprising suggestion in the plan is the extension of Keener Road to Maumee-Western Road as sort of an escape valve for traffic congestion as the community grows. That would go through private land, pointed out trustee Trudy Vicary. Like any plan, this is just an option to consider, and as land becomes available, the township could purchase parcels to eventually “daisy chain” its way through, Grisdale noted, adding that it would have a further benefit of allowing neighborhoods to be more connected.
With the township’s population growing 20 percent to nearly 15,000 in the past decade, sustainability and managed growth also emerged as priorities. Trustee Chuck Hoecherl pointed out the contradiction in some of the survey answers that showed residents’ concerns about sprawl but desire for more single-family homes. Keeping the density tighter in some neighborhoods actually prevents sprawl in the more rural portions of the township, Grisdale explained.
As the committee met over the past 18 months, the township was divided up into planning areas, such as Fallen Timbers, Briarfield, Brandywine, downtown and the western, more rural areas, which all have unique characteristics.
“This thing is going to fail if you put it on a shelf,” Grisdale said of the detailed plan. “When the plan commission is presented with a situation, look at the planning area in terms of transportation, environment and infrastructure.”
In addition to using the plan as a guide, he suggested that the trustees create an active transportation plan and begin looking for grants to pay for projects. While considering downtown development, a district overlay plan would also be beneficial, he said. This provides an additional layer of zoning specifications.
After nearly an hour of discussion, trustees agreed to continue the public hearing until Monday, March 7 in order to get more information.
“It’s a great opportunity to let more people share input at the next meeting,” said trustee Barbara Lang.
During the meeting, the trustees also:
• Decided to focus discussion on American Rescue Plan fund options during the Monday, March 21 meeting. The suggestions for using the funds include: the Monclova Road sewer line; a COVID-19 ambulance with onboard UV decontamination abilities; individual sleeping quarters for fire department personnel; a new HVAC system with air purification system for the Albon Road complex; and a restroom facility for Community Park.
• Approved the 2022 resurfacing project, which includes Keener Road and streets in Crimson Hollow and Clearwater subdivisions. The work includes milling and resurfacing the existing pavement, minor curb repairs, catch basin adjustments and related work. The engineer’s estimate for the 3.94 miles of improvement is $1.5 million. The township will receive $445,000 in grant funding from the Ohio Public Works Commission, leaving the local share at $1,075,000.
• Agreed to a Joint Cooperation Agreement with the Lucas County Engineer’s Office for a crack sealing program.
• Discussed ongoing problems with drainage from a pond at Fallen Timbers Fairways.
• Heard that the Lucas County Sheriff’s Office has a non-emergency number: (419) 255-8443.
• Heard fiscal officer Gavin Pike say that the estimated beginning balance for the year is $14.7 million. Trustees approved appropriations of $9,166,000 for the 2022 budget.
• Appointed Darrell Limes to the Board of Zoning Appeals.
The next Monclova Township Board of Trustees meeting will be held on Monday, March 7 at 5:30 p.m. at 4335 Albon Rd.