BY DIANNE ROZAK, TOWNSHIP TRUSTEE
With many accomplishments to improve the quality of life in Danbury Township in 2021, we have re-opened buildings, ballfields and parks. In 2022, staff continues to excel at meeting the needs of residents and visitors.
Road Supt. Brett Waldron has three full-time workers and seeks to add another in the road department to keep parks, roads and township property in superb condition. The department had 31 funeral services, assisted the annual Wreaths Across America program and mowed and trimmed Sackett Cemetery 40 times. Township resident “free mulch days” were at the brush drop-off site will continue this year. Brush and leaf drop-off has been well-received and one professional brush grinding was completed. Two township residential clean-up weeks were highly successful and will be held again in June and September, with township workers assisting Cyclone Services during the five-day clean-ups.
Vegetation control was again applied to the phragmites at Meadowbrook Marsh and dike repair plans will move forward. The department spent 516 hours mowing township properties as well as hours of trimming. Dead or hazardous trees as well as brush in the township road rights of way and parks have been removed, and ditches were monitored and cleaned.
Meter Road and Mistic Bay Point were paved. Reclamite was applied to Lightner Road, the cost shared with Portage Township. A township stimulus grant purchased a new truck salt hopper and a new Chevy Silverado and a new International snowplow. An ODOT state purchasing program provided 300 tons of salt. Construction of a salt/material storage building was completed at the rear of the police/maintenance facility on Bridge Road.
Standby generators were bought for the police station and township hall. The Brownhelm Historical Association and the maintenance staff worked together on a stone restoration and rejuvenation project at Wolcott Cemetery.
Chief Michael Meisler and the Danbury Township Police Department has eight full-time officers, one part-time officer and a K-9 officer named Kalahan, handled by Officer Kyle Scott. They provide protection 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with eight marked and two unmarked vehicles.
The officers drove 139,511 miles on patrol in 2021. Total incidents were 3,696 which was up by 361 from the previous year. The department handled 20 incidents inside the Village of Marblehead and 160 within Lakeside. K-9 Kalahan assisted with nine drug searches, 10 training events, 13 assists to Danbury Township. Police incidents with high amounts of attention included alarm calls, theft and trespassing, lockouts, suspicious persons or vehicles, property damage, traffic complaints and warnings, animal complaints, assisting other agencies in the county and assisting Danbury Fire and EMS.
The department at has a regular presence at Danbury Schools, where the DARE program is taught throughout the year. The department headquarters at at 419 S. Bridge Road offers recycling bins, secure document shredding, prescription disposal services and offers house watch and senior watch. Call 419-732-2549 for the free services.
Chief Keith Kahler and the Danbury Township Fire Department staff of 40 reported 980 incidents in 2021, up 132, and 825 EMS calls, 43 fire calls, 17 motor vehicle accidents, 78 fire alarms,10 carbon monoxide activations and seven mutual aid calls, with 533 people transported.
The Fire and EMS staff meets Monday evenings for training, department updates and continuing education sessions. The new Danbury Fire Station is well under construction on East Harbor Road, just west of North Shore Blvd. It is anticipated the building will be completed by June.
The Fire Department is in need of additional staff. Township residency is preferred, but not required. Full training and all equipment is provided and no experience is necessary. Call 419- 798-5219 for information.
Danbury Township’s zoning and planning administrator Kathryn Dale, continues to be the center for residential and business growth and expansion with 288 permits issued. Between 2011 – 2021, the average number of permits issued per year has been 234.
This past year more permits were issued from January through April and August through October than in previous years, with a flurry of activity occurred during the traditional summer months. Some of this likely was due to supply chain issues and the massive inflation of lumber pricing. Single family home permits totaled 34, three more than the prior year.
Permit fees were down by just over $2,000 but were still more than in 2017-19. Residential improvements continued in large numbers (147) and included additions, fences, porches, decks, docks and accessory buildings and pools.
The Board of Zoning Appeals heard 35 cases (four less than 2020). About one-third were in Lakeside, where a large number of properties are nonconforming and require a variance. In October, the BZA determined cases would again be heard remotely via the Zoom platform.
The Zoning Commission heard three cases, but a residential rezoning study provoked 7,952 calls, emails and in-person inquiries, 1,087 site visits and 57 violation letters. The average was 94 inspections and 663 calls and emails per month.
One of the major goals during the year was the rezoning of 12 areas from recreational-commercial to high density residential. The trustees requested the Zoning Commission move forward with this study to protect residential areas, both old and new, from adverse recreational-type activities and development.
The intent was to prevent creating a problem for existing commercial uses. Two open houses and continual publicity in newspapers and social media ensured residents were aware of this proposed change. Feedback was positive, public hearings were held and the map amendments became effective in December.
In January, the township’s complaints and violations policy was updated to allow more proactive enforcement of tall grass violations without necessarily a formal complaint. The process to enter the property of a tall grass violation was also shortened if the property owner refused their first warning letter or if they were deceased.
A process was also established to allow potential proactive enforcement of nuisance properties located near a property that already experienced a complaint. Dale assists businesses seeking to locate or expand in the township and works closely with commercial and residential developers, business owners and residential property owners to design projects that will add to the township’s economic, environmental and social well-being.
During 2021 action was taken on five dilapidated structures and three abatements were pursued for repeat violations. For 2022 the department’s goals include continual implementation of the Land Use Plan, reviewing accessory building height and size ratio to lot size and conducting training for Board of Zoning Appeals and Zoning Commission members.
Township newsletters are published twice each year in late spring and late summer. They are mailed several weeks in advance of township clean-ups and are available for viewing on the website. Current news and pertinent information along with all contact information is on our website www.danburytownship.com. Elected officials and department heads are available to the public via phone or email.
Our staff continues to review all expenditures closely to provide the best service at the most reasonable cost to our residents. Trustees John Paul Dress and Dave Hirt join in wishing everyone a very safe and productive 2022.
Fiscal Officer Carolyn Adams and Assistant Fiscal Officer Susan Dress continue to work diligently to keep the financial side of township business up to speed and in compliance. We are currently searching for a full-time employee to replace Susan Dress as she will be leaving the township within the next few months. Information about this position can be found on the township website.
We were fortunate to receive funding from the American Rescue Plan Act. Projects planned for use of those funds include repairs at township hall, reconfiguration of the dike at Meadowbrook and upgrades to the dog park. We all work very hard to meet the continual growing needs of your township. Please do not hesitate to call any of us with your questions and ideas.