Township agrees to meet with Centerville

SUGARCREEK TOWNSHIP — Officials from Sugarcreek Township have agreed to meet with the city of Centerville to see if an agreement can be reached regarding fire and emergency medical service at the Cornerstone of Centerville development.

After failed mediation attempts and a federal lawsuit still pending, Centerville Mayor C. Mark Kingseed proposed a Saturday morning session where negotiations will take place until “the issue is resolved or we collectively reach a complete impasse.”

Township trustees at a special meeting Wednesday decided to meet, tentatively setting a July 1 date.

“I continue to be cautiously optimistic,” Sugarcreek Township Administrator Barry Tiffany said. “They’re trying to to their best. We’re trying to do our best. Hopefully both sides will articulate why they need what they need.”

The issue is how much Centerville would pay Sugarcreek Township for fire and emergency medical service at Cornerstone, which is on Centerville-annexed property but still in the township. Currently Costco is the only open retail business but several restaurants and Kroger have announced plans to construct there as well, which will undoubtedly lead to increased calls for service.

In a statement, Centerville said “Ohio law does not require us to provide any money to Sugarcreek Township for Fire/EMS service but, we have always wanted to be fair partners.”

Negotiations between the sides began years ago, but heated up when — four days before Costco opened — the township created a new fire district that excluded the Cornerstone development and portions of nearby public roads including Interstate 675, Feedwire Road, Brown Road and Dille Road.

That action resulted in a series of lawsuits, motions and mediation sessions all aimed at creating some sort of resolution. The township ultimately rescinded the fire district and has agreed to provide fire and EMS service to the area, but that didn’t bring closure to the issue.

The latest court action took place Monday, June 8 when attorneys for the Oberer Companies — the developer of the property — filed a motion asking Federal Judge Walter H. Rice to deny a motion from the trustees seeking dismissal of a federal suit Oberer filed in March.

The federal lawsuit seeks monetary damages, injunctive relief and a declaratory judgment that will permanently prevent the township from excluding the Cornerstone from its fire district. At least one prospective tenant — Milano’s — has withdrawn its plan to move into Cornerstone because of the fire/EMS issue.

In the motion for dismissal, township attorneys argue that the Oberer lawsuit has no merit at this point.

Both sides want to work something without the help of a federal judge.

“It’s definitely an important first step,” Centerville City Manager said of the meeting. “Mayor Kingseed has been desirous of getting all the parties together in one room for some time. We certainly hope it will be constructive.”

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