Doug Germann, owner of Century Trading Company, told council members that he would fight any forced annexation.
Doug Germann, owner of Century Trading Company, told council members that he would fight any forced annexation.

By Sam Shriver

Times Bulletin Staff Writer

VAN WERT — Van Wert City Council held a meeting Monday night to discuss the idea of annexing a portion of West Main Street between Statewide Ford and John Brown Road into the City of Van Wert.

The meeting was held prior to the regular council meeting before the council’s Judiciary and Annexation Committee.

Some council members were concerned about the condition of one property, in particular, Brown’s Auto Sales at 1200 W. Main Street. That property is owned by Samuel L. Brown.

Councilman Jeff Agler attended a previous meeting of the Pleasant Township Trustees and was concerned the trustees weren’t interested in addressing the condition of the property.

If the City of Van Wert were to annex the Brown Auto Sales property the move could potentially force Brown to clean it up.

Brown also owns a used car lot at the end of East Main Street which is within the city limits.

Pleasant Township trustee Jay Gamble indicated there wasn’t much they could do legally to force the clean-up of the property but would be willing to speak with the Van Wert County Prosecutor’s office to see where they legally stand.

Trustee Todd Wallace was unaware, until recently, that the car lot was in Pleasant Township.

“When Jeff Agler came to the meeting and presented that to us, I was taken aback,” Wallace said.

One of the properties affected by the potential annexation was Century Trading Company, which is just west of the car lot.

Owner Doug Germann told council he’ll fight rather than be annexed.

“We are definitely going to oppose you on annexation,” Germann said. “We’ve been there since 1968. The business is a family-owned business.”

Brown did not attend Monday night’s meeting and could not be reached by phone when we attempted to contact him earlier in the day.

During the regular meeting, the discussion on forced annexation continued and councilman Agler made a suggestion to only annex Brown’s Auto Sales if that’s what’s needed to clean up the property.

“That property has to get cleaned up,” Agler said. “It’s not going to get cleaned up until…I’m for forced annexing that property.”

A committee meeting to further discuss the forced annexation issue was scheduled for 6 p.m. on Monday, October 3. Also expected to be discussed at the meeting is updating council rules.

In recent meetings, a few members of the public have interrupted the meeting with questions they had.

It has been the practice to allow that kind of discussion throughout the meeting.

Many municipalities only allow a limited amount of time to comment during council meetings and only during a certain part of the meeting, not on every issue that comes up.

Council President Gerald Mazur has suggested to those wanting to voice their opinion to put it in writing and the issues they raise would be placed in a council committee for further discussion.

Mazur said he received a text from local businessman Eric McCracken who was concerned about the disruptions.

“I was surprised at the amount of time wasted by individuals complaining at the meetings. They did not speak for me or the majority of our town. I would urge you to work with your fellow council people and the administration to find a way to curtail this behavior at our city meetings. I do feel that everyone has a voice, but not like this,” the text stated.

Mazur said he was “taking that to heart and I’m asking the judiciary committee to review the rules in Chapter 30 to see if there aren’t some amendments or revisions that can be implemented that will bring this meeting to order in a more professional manner.”

In other business, city council approved legislation for the Safety Service Director to accept bids for the replacement of sewer lines under the Eggerss Stadium football field. That work would start shortly after the football season is over as the school district is planning to replace the current football field.

Council tabled a request from the Van Wert County Foundation to spend $594,365 on a waterline project on Main Street in downtown Van Wert.

At the last meeting, there were concerns expressed by some council members about the cost of the project.

The request to table the matter came from the Van Wert County Foundation which wanted more time to justify the money requested for the project.

“I appreciate you hearing us out for our request at the last meeting and we’ve taken the time to speak with just a few of you and heard from the public as well and we would like to have this motion tabled if that is alright by you and reconsider how to reposition and speak further with you about what this project means for Van Wert and what it means for us and what you’re participation means for us as well,” said Hall Block, property manager for the Van Wert County Foundation.

At the next council meeting, on October 10, there will be a discussion about the idea of forming a Downtown Redevelopment District. That discussion will happen at 6 p.m. The regular meeting is set for 6:30 p.m.