Township seeks to hire second patrol deputy

The Batavia Township board of trustees voted July 18 to place a levy on the November ballot to hire additional police officers for the township. Currently, the township enjoys the services of a single sheriff’s deputy with dedicated patrol routes within the township. However, as the population has risen, calls have exceeded levels that a single deputy can handle.

“I want to put on the ballot a police levy,” said Trustee Archie Wilson. “We’ll leave it up to the people. I feel that, when it comes to taxes, the people need to choose if they want more police protection or not.”

For some time, the township has discussed the possibility of hiring a second or even third deputy to devote their time to patrolling the township, which is also covered by regular sheriff’s deputies. The difference, however, is that the sheriff’s department also has to patrol the rest of the county, while a dedicated officer can spend their time in the township exclusively. The cost of hiring a deputy, however, goes beyond what is available in the township funds, prompting the decision to place a levy on the ballot.

The levy, a one-mill amount, will be placed as a continuing levy on the ballot. The decision to put it before voters was prompted by complaints from residents of the township who said that one deputy is not enough police protection for residents.

The meeting also saw the extension of two planned development cases that were previously approved by the township. Both the Streamside and Trautmann Farms developments requested extensions to allow them to extend the planning effort by up to a year. When a planned development receives approval, the developers are given 18 months to provide a final development plan, or else the plan itself is null and void.

“A final plan is a final plan,” said Wilson. “In this township, we’ve had plans set for 10 years, and that’s not a good plan anymore. We put these deadlines in here so you don’t landbank the land.”

The Trautmann Farms development failed to meet that deadline due to a holdup in the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency process concerning development around wetlands, which are plentiful in the development. Engineer Angelo Santoro said that the holdup comes mainly because of a manpower shortage.

“We’ve been working with the plan since that time (it was approved by the trustees),” said Santoro. “We’ve primarily been working with wetlands. So far, that has taken us to the point of being within days of final approval. I could never have guessed that this situation could have taken so much time. There is one person for the Ohio EPA that covers all of southern Ohio for wetlands.”

The Streamside development, however, had met the final plan 18-month deadline, but was then struck with delays in meeting the next administrative deadline. In that case, the EPA also had a hand to play, said developer representative Tim Burgoyne.

“One of the things we were doing was softening the curve on Herold Road,” said Burgoyne. “The Ohio EPA said they had six months for approval, but it took them 11 months. There were also some economic conditions with a slowing of house sales and the closing of the Batavia Ford Plant. The county also came to us to talk about maybe putting an interchange in at the intersection. We wanted to look and see how this would impact us. If they do this, we may have to come back to you for a major revision of the plan.”

The township also approved the rezoning of land near their old township hall on Old SR 32 that had been approved for planned development, but abandoned by the developer. That land was rezoned to residential.

The trustees also approved a resolution voicing their displeasure over an upcoming property annexation from the township into the village of Amelia. According to township administrator Rex Parsons, the annexation would effectively isolate a portion of the township within the Amelia village limits, which, he said, is illegal.

“I think we need to send a message that this is not something we are in support of,” said trustee Deborah Clepper. “Not all annexation is bad, but this is not in the best interests of the entire community.”