BUCKEYE LAKE – A key issue between Buckeye Lake Village Council members and Mayor Clay Carroll wasn’t even mentioned at council’s February 13 meeting.
The issue was council’s 4-2 approval of a motion at its January 23 meeting not to reconfirm Stacie McCloud as a non-elector member of the village’s Planning and Zoning Commission. The vote was 4-2 with Council President Kitty Zwissler and members Robert Masone MD, Tim Ryan and Peggy Wells voting “yes”. Council members Doug Poorman DVM and Arletta Ruton were opposed. Council member Tom Wolfe was absent.
Two provisions in the village’s charter or operating rules lead to council’s action. McCloud serves as one of council’s appointees to the Planning and Zoning Commission. She is no longer a village resident consequently she is a non-elector and the charter requires that non-elector board or commission appointees be reconfirmed annually.
The second charter provision limits service to one board or commission. McCloud is also a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission. Council members discussed January 23 whether to let McCloud decide where she wanted to serve, but ultimately made the decision themselves by reconfirming her as a Parks and Recreation Commission member. That decision specifically stated that she was not reconfirmed for Planning and Zoning.
Carroll emailed council members on Jan. 27 stating, “It has been validated that the interpretation of the charter that was used in Monday’s meeting regarding Stacy Mc- Cloud was incorrect. I should have the details from the solicitor for council by the next mtg. The action taken is therefore invalid.”
Planning and Zoning chair Karen Cookston weighed in on the issue in a January 31 email update to Commission members. She wrote, “It was determined by the Village Solicitor that the conclusions made by Council about the Charter are incorrect, a person can be on two commissions and the Council does not have the authority to remove a member under this circumstance. To date I do not know what next steps will be taken by the solicitor the Mayor and Council.”
Council members finally received the Buckeye Lake Law Director Mark Gardner’s opinion in a February 1 email. He wrote, “Second, as to the issue of a citizen serving on the Planning Commission if that citizen is appointed to another Village Board and/or Commission, I have reviewed Section 7.01 of the Village Charter for guidance. I do not find that Section 7.01 of the Charter requires that the Planning Commission members not be members of other boards and/or commissions. The closest issue found in this section of the Charter is that, under Section 7.01 (f), no Village employee or official may serve as a Board member while so employed, elected or appointed. I find no definition that a citizen appointed to a Board or Commission is deemed a Village employee or official.”
Gardner didn’t address the Charter’s requirement that non-elector members must be reconfirmed annually.
Wells responded to Carroll and Gardner on Feb. 1. She wrote, “It’s very sad and just downright pathetic that I find it necessary to share with you AND THE SOLICITOR the common meaning of the word “official.” She included an on-line definition: “noun – 1. a person holding public office or having official duties, especially as a representative of an organization or government department.”
Cookston then challenged council’s specific authority by declaring at the February 14 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting that McCloud is still a member on the advice of the mayor and village solicitor. McCloud wasn’t at the meeting.
Council members are expected to challenge Cookston’s contention since there is nothing in the Charter or Ohio law that allows a mayor or village solicitor to unilaterally overturn a council action.