BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Monclova Township is still known for its delicious sweet corn, Monclova Plowboys 4-H Club and historic community center.
With an annual growth rate of 1.75 percent over the past decade, however, the once-rural community is increasingly becoming a place to rent an apartment, build a house, start a business or hit the trail.
“Monclova Township is growing fast,” agreed township administrator Harold Grim.
By his estimate, with 5,052 single-family homes in the township, the population is around 15,000 – surpassing Maumee’s estimated 13,787.
As zoning administrator, Eric Wagner sees firsthand how quickly the township is expanding. Recently, he issued permits for Jerome Capital to build 72 one-story Encore villas for lease. Wagner estimates that the township has more than 400 apartments, ranging from the newer Lakeside by Fallen Timbers apartment community to the Brandywine-area apartments built in the 1960s.
Drive through the township and the signs of residential growth are everywhere. After finishing out more than 700 homes in Waterside, Gulfstream Development is preparing 115 acres on Albon Road between Salisbury and Maumee-Western for Stoney Creek. With a lake for boating and fishing, an 8-acre wooded preserve with walking trails and several floor plans, Stoney Creek will have 283 home sites, breaking ground this year.
Homes are also springing up in Evergreen Abbey, Coder Cove, the Hamptons, Meadows of Monclova, Villas at Blystone, Williams Way and Winterbourne Station.
Two new housing developments are in the planning stages along Waterville-Monclova Road. Brian McCarthy has plans for 75 homes around a pond Between Winterbourne Station and Black Road. At the northeast corner of Stitt and Waterville-Monclova roads, Premier Builders is planning 13 single-family homes and seven condominiums on 10 acres under the name Cedar Grove.
During a public hearing for McCarthy’s community – likely geared toward empty-nesters – resident Clayton Converse asked Zoning Commission members how the township is doing long-range planning to handle a continued influx of retirees and the impact of an aging population on services.
While many condos and villas are being marketed to active-lifestyle seniors by the developers, they’re open to all ages, Wagner said. The township has a land use plan, last updated in 2009, that outlines areas of zoning and expected growth. Used by the Zoning Commission and the county planners when considering plans for developments, it will likely be reviewed in the coming year, Grim said.
The growing population has made a noticeable impact on the Monclova Township Fire Department, which logged 1,483 runs last year, of which 1,180 were for EMS. Fire Chief Michael Bernhard said nursing facilities topped the list for calls, including Addison Heights, Ridgewood Manor, Lakes of Monclova and Sunshine Community.
“We can handle it,” Bernhard said, explaining that he, Deputy Chief Michael George and Assistant Chief Matt Homik are available during the weekdays along with three part-time officers who staff the station 24 hours a day. Paid-per-call members keep the department staffed on the weekends.
“That way, we have enough staff to manage three calls at once,” Bernhard said.
Reasons for the increase in calls include not just the growing population, but also the decreasing number of private ambulance services available to transport people in non-emergency situations, he said.
As the township grows, so does the responsibility to manage more than 200 miles of roadways, keeping them repaired, cleared and free of leaves. Last year, portions of Monclova Road and Waterville-Monclova Road were repaved and sidewalks added.
In the next few years, the township will see the addition of two new roundabouts and an interchange at I-475 and US 20-A.
The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) will construct two roundabouts – one where US 20-A intersects with SR 295 (Berkey-Southern Road) and one where US 20-A intersects with Whitehouse-Spencer Road. The project also includes construction of a connector road between Air Cargo Road and SR 295. The project is intended to improve intermodal transportation infrastructure to support economic development around the Toledo Express Airport and reduce congestion around a proposed airport industrial park project, said ODOT public information officer Rebecca Dangelo. The Ohio EPA is looking at potential impacts to wetlands and a stream on that area. Work on the roundabouts is expected to start in late fall or early spring 2020.
ODOT is still seeking funding for an interchange at I-475 and US 20-A, so a timeline has not yet been set. Earlier estimates of $33.5 million would be split among several partners, including the township, Maumee, the Lucas County Engineer’s Office and the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority.
To cover its portion, Monclova Township trustees agreed to move forward with putting a TIF – Tax Increment Financing agreement – in place near the future interchange. Many of the properties around the area are not yet developed, but are likely to attract more interest with the interchange, Grim said. A TIF collects taxes on the increased value of the property as it’s developed and earmarks it for the costs of improvements to infrastructure.
“It doesn’t affect the owner of the property, just how the money is distributed,” Grim said.
While township officials are continually looking for grants, low-interest loans and funding mechanisms to cover new roads and in-creased services, Metroparks Toledo is looking for ways to get the growing population outdoors and connected via multipurpose trails.
Cannonball Prairie Met-ropark, on 89 acres along Monclova Road, is set to open later this year.
Located on land between Weckerly and Eber roads and encompassing a section of the Wabash Cannonball Trail, the park features two ponds that will be used for fishing, boating and wildlife watching, hiking trails, primitive camping and restroom facilities. The former Springer Farm is home to a circa 1911 barn that will be auctioned off the end of February.