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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

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          Northwood Councilman Dan Mikolajczyk is not happy with Lake Township when it comes to taking care of lots with overgrown weeds in the surrounding area of the former Woodville Mall, where Northwood is trying to attract new commercial and residential development.

        “Northwood has invested more than $2.3 million to clean up - and hopefully revitalize - the old Woodville Mall location,” said Mikolajczyk. “We have high hopes of investors wanting to bring in new businesses to this location and maybe creating a new multi-use and extended downtown area for Northwood. If this occurs, the city, as well as Lake Township, would gain some possible new business ventures.”

        But he said tall weeds, unkempt lots and abandoned buildings in Lake Township near the mall property are chasing away development.

        “We’re trying to clean the mall property over here. It’s going to be hard to get something reasonable in there that’s going to please everybody, but it doesn’t help if there is high grass,” said Mikolajczyk. “Nobody is going to want to move into our town with high grass either in Northwood or Lake Township. Right now, at the intersection of State Rte. 579 and State Rte. 51, a gas station and mini-strip mall area abut the Woodville Mall property that we are trying to clean up to be attractive to potential developers. Several of these Lake Township properties have overgrown grass problems that are not being addressed by township officials,” he said.

        The former Food Town building on St. Rte. 51 is surrounded by overgrown grass and weeds, he said, as well as long term parking of semis in the lot. He added that the structure itself is unsafe because of a deteriorating roof.

        “Our city attorney and Northwood Mayor Ed Schimmel have had talks with the township about the tall grass issues as well as the condition of these buildings, and the city’s concern over what this picture presents to a possible developer looking for an area to invest in that the city and the township would both benefit. Why is the township not worried, or not willing to be a good neighbor to Northwood as to taking care of this blighted area? It is very frustrating,” Mikolajczyk said.

        Northwood City Administrator Bob Anderson confirmed that the city and township have had discussions about the issue.

        “We’ve been talking with them to form some kind of joint economic development district. We have been unsuccessful about that in the past,” said Anderson. “We are trying to develop the former mall property, and across the street it doesn’t look too good. But they are our neighbors and I’m going to remain as friendly as I can with them.”

        Anderson compared it to property values dropping for homeowners trying to sell their houses when the neighbors aren’t maintaining their properties.

        “It is going to affect your property value. I think Lake Township actually cares, but maybe does not have the will to address the issue. Most people think these properties around the mall are in Northwood, but they are not. It’s a Lake Township issue. We have talked with them in the past about developing joint economic development agreements that would allow us to address the issue of cleaning up the properties. We are aware that trying to put in new investment in this area is hindered by the appearance of the surrounding areas, both in the city and not in the city,” said Anderson.

        Northwood has a six-month contract with Danbury National to find a developer for the mall property, said Anderson.

        “Brian McMahon is looking for possible buyers or tenants – people who would be willing to enter into an agreement with the city to develop that property. Obviously, the devil is always in the detail in those agreements,” said Anderson. Although the city was undecided in the past as to whether the property should be developed for residential versus commercial, city council and the mayor have recently expressed a desire to see residential development at the site.

        “I believe that the mayor’s priority leans more toward developing it as a nice residential area with a small commercial front, like a restaurant. If we were in an area that was very desirable, such as Hilton Head, South Carolina, we would not have any problem at all developing this piece of property because of its location and desirability. But we’re not in that ball park. It will be our attempt to make this area a little more desirable. But here again, we then get into the issues of the neighboring properties. So it’s all interconnected. It’s very complicated. It’s going to take a number of years to develop that site. It’s not going to happen in 2019, although a foundation might be laid in 2019.”

        The three township trustees, Richard Welling, Ken Gilsdorf and Jeff Pettit, said Tuesday they’ve not been contacted by Northwood officials.

        Mark Hummer, township administrator, said he met with Anderson recently but their conversation focused on ways to promote the Woodville Road corridor.

        “I haven’t had any complaints but I will be happy to speak with them,” he said.

        The township does have a policy covering noxious weeds, Pettit said. It was adopted in 2013 as part of a broader nuisance abatement resolution that requires the property owner be notified of the problem before the township takes enforcement action.

        Welling said the owner of the former Food Town building has been trying to sell it.

       

       

 

 

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