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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

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Oregon council plans to refer a petition from two property owners seeking the vacation of Athens Road, south of Worden Road, to the Plan Commission for approval. They plan to purchase the `paper street’ because it is adjacent to their properties.

Vacating the city owned road was part of a compromise last month for neighbors living near property owned by St. Kateri Catholic Academy and Cardinal Stritch High School, which sought and received a Special Use Exception for 15 acres of land it owned to develop athletic fields at 1055 South Coy and 3521 Pickle roads.

“We said if they didn’t have a reason to retain those paper streets for improvements for themselves, the city had no plans for them, either,” said Mayor Mike Seferian at a committee of the whole meeting on May 2. The city had proposed selling the vacated streets to interested neighbors. The proceeds will go toward drainage and putting in access to each of the parcels behind the development.

The late George Tschann in 2011 donated the land, which had been lined with 2,000 trees planted by Tschann, to St. Kateri. Last September, St. Kateri removed most of the trees from the property, an area bounded by Coy, Pickle, Schmidlin and Worden roads, with the ultimate goal of constructing baseball and softball diamonds, and practice fields. It was part of its master plan, which was shared with the community in a letter to homeowners whose property borders the land. The letter also addressed the schools’ plans to survey and landscape the property, as well as remove the trees. Many residents who live nearby showed up at Plan Commission and council meetings to express their concerns that the athletic fields would create noise, additional traffic and safety problems in the area.

Seferian said last month that the city has a formal process of vacating paper streets, and that neighbors would have the right to purchase the property from the city.

“Without Kateri objecting, and the city having no future use for that, we thought it would be best…to vacate that,” Seferian said last week.

Councilwoman Sandy Bihn asked how the market value of the property was determined.

In the past, the city would assess the square foot value of adjoining properties to determine the square foot value of paper street parcels, but Seferian said the formula wasn’t fair because the property was unbuildable.

“It only has value to each of the properties. So we took it as an unbuildable strip of land, and put a value to it. We have no intentions to use it, so we want to put it in a position where it would get maintained by someone other than us. The parcel standing alone has almost no value to anyone other than adjoining properties,” said Seferian.

Using a formula from the past, the property would have been valued at almost $10,000 each for the two property owners, said Finance Director Kathy Hufford.

A new formula calculated by the city reduced that amount to $1,439.11 for each parcel.

“Historically, we compared it only to parcels with homes on them that were immediately adjacent,” said City Administrator Mike Beazley. “We added the old Tschann property, which is right behind it, into that calculation as well. As the mayor pointed out, in reality, the city doesn’t want these properties. We want to maintain a drainage easement, which is our only interest there. We want to try and get to a formula we thought was fair and could achieve the objectives of the city and taxpayers – we’re better off with someone else taking these properties and maintaining the city’s easement for drainage. That’s a win for the taxpayers long term. As the mayor said, we had a formula that applies in many situations but it just didn’t apply here. This had no value to anyone else, and it’s something the city could never have gotten rid of if we used a formula we didn’t think was fair.”

Councilman Steve Hornyak asked if there were other property owners adjacent to the Kateri parcel who were interested in purchasing nearby paper streets.

“There are still others who are looking at their options,” said Beazley.

If the Plan Commission recommends approval, the matter would then go before council for approval.

 

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