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Resolution sought for Chippewa Lake to escape 'jurisdictional black hole'

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    The Save the Lake Coalition is trying to get the commissioners to join in a resolution to petition the court to merge the Chippewa Subdistrict with the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District. Chippewa Lake is shown here.

    ALYSSA ALFANO / GAZETTE

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MEDINA — Mark Krosse, a volunteer with the Save the Lake Coalition, appealed to Medina County commissioners for the second time Tuesday urging them to craft a resolution that he said would benefit several jurisdictions around Chippewa Lake.

Chippewa Lake Village, Gloria Glens Village, Westfield Center Village and Westfield Township have all passed resolutions in support of the coalition’s efforts to resolve what Krosse called a “jurisdictional black hole.”

The Save the Lake Coalition is trying to get the commissioners to join in on a resolution to petition the 18-member conservancy court to merge the Chippewa Subdistrict with the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District

While studying the ongoing algal bloom problem in the lake, the coalition stumbled across other districting troubles, Krosse said.

“We became aware of longstanding issues with regard to Muskingum (Watershed Conservancy District) and the Chippewa Subdistrict, where back in 1961 at the time of its formation, both the lake and the one-mile outlet down to Buffham Road were left out of the jurisdiction of the Chippewa Subdistrict,” he said.

The Chippewa Subdistrict was formed to manage the regional watershed. The Chippewa Watershed covers almost 52,000 acres in Medina County.

Krosse is asking the commissioners to join his group’s petition.

“We’re asking that the jurisdictional black hole focusing on flood control be resolved and that Chippewa Lake and the outlet be brought back into the subdistrict,” he said.

“Medina County was left out of the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District in 1935 — no one knows why — and that we are brought back into the scope of the broader Muskingum district, which also has that broader mandate with watershed quality and watershed management.”

Krosse said if the lake and outlet are brought into the MWCD, then the Chippewa Subdistrict would be dissolved.

If that happens, Krosse said there would be a better focus on water quality and flood control in southern Medina County.

Currently, because the lake and outlet were left out of the Chippewa Subdistrict, those who live in the area are not provided any of the benefits of the MWCD.

“We see this as the next step for water quality and flood control,” Krosse said.

The potential advantage of that move would come in the form of assessments. About 14,500 parcels of land in Medina County must pay assessments on their taxes to the MWCD. Krosse said the average assessment is $10 per parcel, which he said adds up to about $150,000 in Medina County.

The assessments are for maintenance, such as repairs to pipes and culverts in and around Chippewa Lake.

“That’s the end stage we want to get to,” Krosse said previously. “Becoming part of the main district, we would have the benefit of watershed management and water quality management.”

If the subdistrict merged with the MWCD, it also could have access to oil royalties, Krosse said.

He said the main district sits on top of the Utica Shale Formation, which provides as much as $150 million to $200 million in oil royalty income a year spilt between land owners in the MWCD.

The coalition also asked the Medina County Park District to join in with the petition, but it declined.

“Mark came to our board last January and proposed a resolution,” Park Director Nate Eppink said.

“At that time the board chose not to adopt it under the advice from legal counsel because essentially they didn’t want to be part of a potential lawsuit in the conservancy court.”

Eppink, who has been park district director since last Oct. 1, said the park district has been a partner of the MWCD for decades. The MWCD also rents an office at Buffalo Retreat in Guilford Township, which is owned by the park district.

“We work with them to accomplish our goals,” he said.

Commissioner Bill Hutson said, basically, “They don’t want to rock the boat.”

The coalition is meeting with the park district on Monday morning to try to resolve its reluctance to get involved in joining the petition. Hutson said he’d rather wait until after the meeting before commissioners decide on joining the petition.

Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or rfinnan@medina-gazette.com.


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