Genoa hires new zoning director


By Lenny C. Lepola

For The Gazette

Joseph Shafer is Genoa Township’s new development and zoning director.

At a special meeting last week, township trustees unanimously approved Shafer’s hiring.

The township has been working to fill the position which was left vacant when former development and zoning director Joe Clase resigned last October.

Shafer has spent the past five years as community planner for Cranberry Township in Butler County, Pennsylvania.

In his new capacity, Shafer will be responsible for overseeing Genoa Township’s development and zoning office, including implementation of a comprehensive land use plan, managing enforcement of zoning, issuance of permits and reviews of proposed developments, administration of community planning efforts, preparation of grant applications and other tasks under the direction of the township Administrator Paul Wise.

Trustee Karl Gebhardt said Shafer will face a number of immediate challenges upon assuming the position, including managing updates to the comprehensive plan, a resurgence in new housing construction, and potential commercial development projects in the township’s southern tier.

“We expect he’ll be tested early and often, but he’ll have a very supportive network of staff, elected officials, residents and community businesses,” Gebhardt said. “We plan to give him all the tools and resources he needs to succeed, which in turn will help our community thrive.”

Trustee Leo Wilhelm, who spent a decade as a member of the township’s planning and zoning commission, echoed Gebhardt’s sentiments and noted that Shafer’s drive, enthusiasm and disarming personality were key to his selection for the job.

“As dry of subject matter as land use might be to most of us, Joe spoke with an incredible degree of passion and energy about projects he shepherded in Cranberry Township,” Wilhelm said. “He’ll do a fantastic job of communicating with the public and can simplify and articulate complex development and zoning issues. We’ll be looking to utilize his talents for many years to come.”

Trustee Rick Carfagna expressed confidence in Shafer’s ability to quickly get up to speed on the area’s dynamics.

“I’m really impressed with Joe’s versatility,” Carfagna said. “This is someone who wants to go beyond administering the zoning office and be an ambassador for Genoa Township. He’s not going to be tied to his desk, he’s going to be out cultivating relationships with our (homeowner associations), our community businesses, area chambers and our schools.”

Shafer is a graduate of Jenison High School in Jenison, Michigan, and has a bachelor’s degree in geography with a city and regional planning emphasis from Grand Valley State University in Michigan.

Although a Michigan native, Shafer has roots in Genoa Township. His parents are current township residents and Shafer spent a period working at the local Kroger store while he interned with the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission.

Shafer will begin the process of relocating to central Ohio area with his fiancée, Lauren Jarrett, and is slated to begin work Monday, Aug. 3. When Shafer comes on board, Genoa Township’s interim zoning director, Susan Dorsch, will return to her former role as the township’s permit and compliance inspector.

Lenny C. Lepola can be reached at 614-266-6093. Email: [email protected].

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