June 26, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Westfield Twp. trustees to fill seats on 2 boards

WESTFIELD TWP. — Tonight is expected to begin the next round in the fight over the proposed commercial development on a 105-acre property on Greenwich Road now zoned primarily for rural homes.

At issue will be trustees’ appointment of two members to the township Zoning Commission and one member of the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Eleven people are vying for the seats.

Seeking reappointment are Kathy Lemar of the Board of Appeals and Greg Brezina of the Zoning Commission, whose five-year terms are up this year.

Trustees also will appoint someone to fill the unexpired term of Michael Schmidt, who was elected trustee in November, along with William Thombs.

Lemar doesn’t expect to be reappointed, saying her support of commercial rezoning for the property will cost her the job.

The township’s two newly elected trustees tried unsuccessfully to block a proposed out-of-court settlement that would allow full commercial development of the property, near the interchange of Interstates 71 and 76.

Medina County Common Pleas Judge Christopher J. Collier still must approve the settlement, which includes a $15,000 payment to the owners of the property, Timothy and Linda Kratzer.

Thombs and Schmidt filed “a motion to intervene” last month in a lawsuit filed by the Kratzer in August after their request for a variance was rejected by the township Board of Zoning Appeals.

Lemar voted for the variance, which lost on a 3-2 vote.

The Kratzers asked for a variance after voters in November 2011 overturned a commercial rezoning of the property approved by the trustees.

Brezina voted for the rezoning.

The settlement is backed by trustees Gary Harris and Ronald Oiler, who voted for the rezoning in 2012 and were defeated in the November election by Thombs, who led the referendum petition drive, and Schmidt, who chaired the Board of Zoning Appeals that rejected the Kratzers’ variance request in July.

Lemar accused the trustees of violating state law by not advertising the openings on the zoning boards.

“They never bothered to advertise so anyone in the township could apply,” she said. “They just went to their handpicked political allies and told them to apply.”

James Likley, the third trustee who was not up for election and voted against the settlement, said the positions were not advertised because the township had a backlog of applicants from years past.

Likley said he contacted the applicants and told those who were still interested to reapply.

Likley also sent an email Nov. 27 to all zoning members and alternates up for reappointment, asking them to resubmit their applications and resumes by Dec. 23.

The email said anyone who didn’t meet that deadline would be dropped from consideration for reappointment.

“I requested they resubmit their applications and resumes for the benefit of the two new trustees for their review,” Likley said. “It’s so the new board members who will be reappointing or appointing will have all the necessary information.”

In addition to Lamar and Brezina, also applying are Patricia Kwas, John Miller, Ronald Oiler, Russ Zupanic and Keith Simmerer for the Board of Appeals; and Dennis Hoops, Kathy Zweifel and Joseph Doty for the Zoning Commission. Carolyn Sims applied for both boards.

Every one of them except for Doty has been appointed to a position on either board or as an alternate in the past. The zoning posts are part-time posts that pay $30 for a meeting.

Lemar also protested that four of the applications — from Sims, Zweifel, Doty and Zupanic — came in after the deadline.
Trustees said they will consider all applicants.

“With the Christmas holiday and everything and people out of town, I would say we would look at all of the applicants, yes,” Thombs said.

Thombs said he sees his and Schmidt’s election by a wide margin as a mandate for change, and intends to appoint the people he thinks will best serve the majority of residents.

“You’ve got to appoint people who represent the community and take an unbiased look at the issues in front of them,” he said. “I’ve got to try to accomplish what the people who elected me want, and I hope the people I appoint are going to be of the same mind.”

The remaining members of the Board of Appeals are Lemar, Lee Evans, Kevin Daugherty and Wayne Moore. Moore and Daugherty both voted against the Kratzer zoning variance.

The sitting Zoning Commission includes Brezina, Heather Sturdevant, Jill Kemp, Susan Brewer and Scott Anderson.

The 2011 zoning change in favor of the Kratzers’ commercial development of their property was a unanimous vote.

Thursday’s meeting originally was scheduled for Monday but was canceled because of the weather.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.