Swanton Mayor Recuses Herself From Railroad Project Discussions

lorin-lee-webBy: Bill O’Connell

Approximately thirty minutes into the Swanton Village Council meeting on September 12, Mayor Ann Roth called for a motion to move to another room to hold an executive session to discuss the possible sale of Village property to Norfolk Southern Railroad for a proposed rail car staging facility on the eastern edge of Swanton.

Conspicuous by her absence at this session was the mayor, having previously recused herself from any involvement in proceedings regarding the project.

In fact, during the two previous Village Council meetings, one for the council members to directly question Norfolk Southern representatives and one for the public to do the same, Mayor Roth remained silent on the issue, posing no questions and offering no comments. The reason for her recusal is simple. Mayor Roth is married to Alan Schmidt of Schmidt Brothers, Inc., and Schmidt Brothers have sold an option to Norfolk Southern to purchase a large portion of the property on which the proposed rail yard will be built. It was recommended that she recuse herself to avoid any appearance of impropriety and she agreed.

Prior to the executive session the Council heard two presentations. The first was from Dennis Miller of the Maumee Valley Planning Organization (MVPO) offering their services to the Village. MVPO is a voluntary association of local governments that serve Defiance, Henry, Fulton, Paulding and Williams County. They offer a variety of services including help with economic development, community development, fair housing to name a few.

The Council also heard from Lorin Lee, a Swanton resident living on Church Street who expressed his concern with the excessive speed of many vehicles on his street and the safety of residents living there, especially children. Mr. Lee was very concerned with the area of the Crestwood intersection during drop off and pick up times at Crestwood Elementary and pointed out the problem has the potential to become even worse with Church Street being used as part of a detour while South Main Street is closed for a 30-day bridge repair. Police Chief Adam Berg has made some effort to address the problem and Mayor Roth assured Mr. Lee the Village would look for other ways to slow the traffic.

Several Memorial Park issues were brought to light. The Park’s restroom facilities need painting inside and out and the parking lots need to be lined. Fencing around the ball diamonds are in need of repair and stone or gravel will also be required to level some of the diamonds. Two quotes for new water fountains, one for $4380 and one for $5288, were received. Both are dog friendly.

Swanton Fire Department (SFD) employees Ben Steiner and Joe Buehrer resigned their full-time positions and have entered the Toledo Fire and Rescue Academy. They have both asked to remain with the SFD on a part-time basis.

The sale of medical marijuana is now legal in the State of Ohio, however, the State has yet to outline all the specific details of how this new law will work. Rules for producing, prescribing and distributing cannabis to eligible patients are expected to take up to a year to craft. In the meantime, the Planning Commission is recommending a complete ban on cultivating, processing and selling of marijuana for medical purposes as it relates to zoning. Currently, Ordinance 2016-42, placing a six-month moratorium on medical marijuana, is in effect.

The Swanton Lions Club requested the date and time of October 29 from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM to hold their Halloween Hoopla event and asked for Trick or Treat to be held that same evening. Council approved the request.

The next Village Council meeting will be held on September 26, 2016 at 7:00 PM.

Bill O’Connell may be reached at

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