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Ignorance is not an acceptable excuse for trustees anymore


Watchdog Will Kern is spot on with his recent letter regarding the Ohio Revised Code and zoning board members.

I am one of few township officials (past official in my case) in Licking County with graduate credentials from the Ohio Township Association Leadership Academy, but it does not take that designation nor a common sense genius to read and understand the Ohio Revised Code for townships (Title V). In Bowling Green Township government, the status quo is to balk at any educational training and then when caught failing to abide by the simple outlined laws, to just cry out ignorance. This is exactly how our Township Board President treats the zoning amendment process.

All zoning amendments require an arduous legal process involving several public hearings and votes by zoning commission members and ultimately trustees. In regard to the zoning amendment from years ago establishing a five acre lot minimum in the agricultural district; the current trustees seem to be practicing selective memory.

Vanburen announced publicly that he “did not know” the acreage amount could have been set at any number unanimously agreed by the then board. This is not a matter of reading ability or comprehension because the process was read to Mr. Vanburen in public and I also took the time personally to explain it to him. Ignorance is not an acceptable excuse for an elected public leader. Vanburen and Watkins both forced the final vote to be a five acre decision vs. zero acres by refusing any open discussion. Back then, the law required all three trustees to reject or modify a zoning amendment that had been voted by consensus at public hearings, zoning board and also recommendations from the County Planning Commission.

Only two officials, specifically Vanburen and Watkins, actually voted for a ZERO acre agricultural district minimum. This was NOT consensus by any stretch of the imagination. Now the Ohio Revised Code only requires majority vote of the trustees – not all three trustees (unanimous) – to approve such a change through process. The Vanburen “did not know” excuse is not acceptable anymore today than his past selective memory utterance.

A recent Zoning Board meeting clearly revealed that our Zoning Board has no interest at this time to initiate changes to reduce the current agriculture district restrictions. It is time for the fence sitting politicians to stop crying ignorance or blaming others. There is lasting power in the public knowing the laws and forcing government accountability. The status quo board has yet to explain why they voted for a zero acreage minimum in our ag district or why they did not modify the number of acres via board discussion and official vote years ago.

It’s an election year for townships so I expect the “we didn’t know” card or the “blame game” will be upcoming spin by what Mr. Kern calls the Good Old Boys.

Jeff Chorpenning
Bowling Green Township

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