Letter to the Editor: ‘Watchdog’ sniffs around zoning commission
In my last letter I said our GOB trustees had violated the Ohio Revised Code (ORC), which is the State Law that they are required and sworn to abide by. This is NOT optional but mandated. So let’s see what the law requires in ORC 519.04, which covers the Township zoning commission. It states that, “Each regular or alternate member shall serve until the member’s successor is appointed and qualified. Members of the zoning commission shall be removable for nonperformance of duty, misconduct in office, or other cause by the board, upon written charges being filed with the board, after a public hearing has been held regarding such charges, and after a copy of the charges has been served upon the member so charged at least ten days prior to the hearing, either personally, by registered mail, or by leaving such copy at the member’s usual place of residence. The member shall be given an opportunity to be heard and answer such charges. Vacancies shall be filled by the board and shall be for the unexpired term.”
Here is how our GOB’s operate. Months ago, two members (one was an alternate) of the six member Zoning Commission tendered their resignation. One of the resigning members was the Commission president. Based on the law, one would have thought that since there was an alternate member in good standing, he would automatically move up to the open primary slot, right? WRONG! Then all that needed to happen was to have the Fiscal Officer openly advertise the fact that there were two openings to the entire township in an honest effort to obtain volunteers from the entire township. Well... WRONG AGAIN!
What happened was the GOB’s bypassed the alternate member completely (remember what the law states, as noted above) and then not only appointed a local real estate agent/developer as a new primary member, but they then also appointed him the Commission PRESIDENT, all in one fell swoop. Trustees were in such haste to inaugurate this person that they “somehow” forgot that one of the current Zoning Commission members’ term was expiring and they did not even act on renewing her term. When former Trustee Jeff Chorpenning spoke during public comment, he mentioned this blatant oversight and the GOB team went on to publicly display their ineptitude. The overlooked board member asked about her fate during the public comment period. The board member was then reinstated, but after public comment, which was AFTER the formal Board agenda business.
Why did this happen? Why such a hurry? This actually happened many months ago and the Zoning Commission had still not met. Why not follow the law or advertise for interested candidates? My thoughts are that Watkins and VanBuren both had indicated they were against the five-acre minimum lot size, but neither cared to take an actual stand on it. They could have made it ANY SIZE that the two of them could agree on when the Zoning Commission first put the matter before them four years ago. But our GOB’s chose to NOT even discuss the matter, even when then Trustee Chorpenning asked for formal discussions, prior to any vote. Matter of fact, Watkins even laughed after Chorpenning voted YES, and said “Well, I don’t have to vote now!” Personally I thought this was telling. It shows exactly how he thinks and how he loves to play political games.
So is this blatant disregard of the law a GOB attempt to now stack the Zoning Commission to get them to change their mind? It’s your call to make! But know this, our GOB’s have had four years to take action on their own, but they know this is a highly charged political hot button topic, so why take a chance and act on your own. They don’t have Chorpenning to blame any more, so who is next?
Will Kern, Bowling Green