By DENISE GRANT
If the old adage is true that “you can’t fight city hall,” no one has told Matthias Leguire of 830 E. Sandusky St.
Leguire has been locking horns with city officials for months, first because a fence he built was not set back far enough. Then he challenged a new rule that requires Findlay homeowners to keep their grass mowed below 6 inches.
Now, he’s circulating a referendum petition that would take his fight to stop the vacation of two undeveloped streets to the ballot box.
Leguire notified the Findlay City Auditor’s Office of his petition drive this week.
Should the drive raise the 900 signatures necessary, city voters would be asked to reverse City Council’s decision to vacate the streets.
The filing deadline for the November general has passed, and it is unclear if a referendum can be placed on a primary election ballot, said Jody O’Brien, director of the Hancock County Board of Elections.
The actual vote on the referendum may not come until November 2019, O’Brien said Friday.
Council voted Aug. 7 to vacate the right of way for Carrol Street and Benton Street, which were never developed. The right of way for the streets connects to Hawthorne Road, north of East Sandusky Street.
The council vote was 6-5, with council President Ron Monday casting the tie-breaking vote. Voting in favor of the legislation were John Harrington, R-5; Dennis Hellmann, R-2; Dina Ostrander, R-3; along with Republican at-large Councilmen Grant Russel and Tom Shindledecker.
The same five City Council members requested the legislation in June, after a petition to vacate the streets was denied by the Findlay City Planning & Zoning Committee.
The City Planning Commission and the Hancock Regional Planning Commission also opposed the street vacation.
Chris Neely, of 841 Hawthorne Road, filed the petition to have the streets vacated. Neely argued that neighborhood children and pets play in the grassy areas. He wanted the streets vacated to stop Leguire from driving on the undeveloped streets.
Leguire has repeatedly argued against vacating the undeveloped streets. He uses the right of way to access the rear of his five-acre property. That right of way also provides an escape route during floods, and gives him development options.
“If they do this to us, they will continue to bully and oppress citizens who do not live the way they dictate,” Leguire said. “… No one should be treated the way we have been treated. My goal is to stop it from happening to my family and to prevent it from happening to anyone else in the future,” he said. “I feel it is time to take a stand against these unethical practices in our city government.
“It wasn’t right. It wasn’t justifiable. It wasn’t ethical. The close vote, without any council members in favor of the law giving an explanation to support their vote, is evidence of favoritism at best, corruption at worst,” Leguire said.
City residents interested in signing the petition may visit the Leguire home between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
The petitions will also be available during regular business hours at The Wellspring Health & Nutrition, 540 S. Main St., Suite C; Marvin Motors, 600 N. Main St.; and with Byron Dashnaw, of Allstate Insurance, 406 N. Blanchard St.