July 25, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Westfield Township fiscal officer resigns

Westfield Township trustees scrambled Friday to find a replacement for the township’s fiscal officer, Sandra Tryon, who resigned this week.

Tryon turned in a letter of resignation Monday, citing as her reason “current conditions and changes within the township” that have added to her workload and stress.

The trustees hoped to turn the post over temporarily to Martha Evans, who had served as fiscal officer for more than three decades before agreeing last year to become an assistant and help train Tryon.

But at Thursday’s trustees meeting, Evan also quit—in dramatic fashion. In announcing her resignation, Evans took to the podium to charge the trustees, which include two new members elected in November, with “driving out” both Tryon and herself.

When she was done speaking, she left her keys on the podium and left the township hall.

Michael Schmidt, who along with Williams Thombs was elected in November, lamented Evans’ resignation.

“That is a loss and we will have to come together and do what needs to be done,” he said.

Because the resignations left the township with no one to sign the checks or certify the trustees’ actions, the trustees canceled all zoning and committee meetings until a new fiscal officer was named.

But at a special meeting Friday morning, the trustees announced an agreement with Guilford Township Fiscal Officer Ray Ruprecht to serve in a temporary emergency capacity as Westfield’s fiscal officer to keep the bills paid.

Fiscal officer is an elected post, but vacancies can be filled by the trustees, according to Ohio law. That person would serve until an election to be held the next year to fill out the unexpired term.

Trustees also agreed to advertise for the position in the newspaper. The deadline to submit letters of interest and resumes through the township website is Jan. 25.

Also at Friday’s meeting, the trustees voted to continue to fight a lawsuit filed by Timothy and Linda Kratzer who want to commercially develop a 105-acres on Greenwich Road, near the interchanges of Interstates 71 and 76, now zoned primarily for rural homes.

Two trustees defeated in the November election, Gary Harris and Ronald Oiler, voted to offer the Kratzers an out-of-court settlement on Dec. 27—four days before they left office. The third trustee, James Likley, voted against the settlement. Medina County Common Pleas Judge Christopher J. Collier still must approve the settlement, which includes a $15,000 payment to the Kratzers.

At Friday’s meeting, the trustees voted to hire attorney Alfred E. Schrader of Akron to defend the township in the lawsuit, along with township insurance attorney James Mathews and the Medina County Prosecutor’s Office.

In other action Thursday, the trustees filled an open seat on the township’s Zoning Commission and two posts on the Board of Zoning Appeals — one of which fills Schmidt’s unexpired term, which runs until Dec, 31, 2015.

Board of Zoning Appeals member Kathleen LeMar, whose term expired Dec. 31, and was up for possible reappointment, criticized trustees for asking for new applications from members seeking reappointment and for failing to advertise for new applicants.

“It smacks of impropriety,” she said. LeMar has accused the new trustees of handpicking political allies who opposed the commercial zoning of the Kratzers’ property.

Likley, who was elected chairman of the board at Thursday’s meeting, said that zoning positions have sometimes — but not always—been advertised.

The trustees did not reappoint LeMar. Her seat on the Board of Zoning Appeals was given to Keith Simmerer.

John Miller was picked to fill Schmidt’s unexpired term on the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Joseph Doty replaced Greg Brezina on the Zoning Commission.

Kathy Zweifel was appointed to a oneyear term as an alternate on the Zoning Commission and Russ Zupanic was appointed as alternate to the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Carolyn Sims, who was appointed the township’s zoning inspector Thursday, defended the trustees’ appointments of zoning officials.

“This is like their cabinet, so can they appoint who they want,” Sims said. “And if you look at the resumes of the people they appointed, the experience is there, too.”