In a special meeting held Jan. 30, the Liberty Township Board of Trustees tabled a resolution to disband the Liberty Township Development and Annexation Citizen Advisory Committee. Trustees pulled the resolution from the table and disbanded the committee Tuesday in their regular session.
In place of the committee, a resolution was approved by trustees to form the Liberty Township Sawmill Parkway Development Committee.
Trustee Shyra Eichhorn said the resolution should be tabled after talking with Powell City Council member Brian Lorenz. She said Lorenz saw the action as premature, but the city council wasn’t opposed to it.
“They are having further discussions,” she said. “They have a very big workload.”
Eichhorn said there needs to be “further discussion to make sure we’re all on the same page.”
Trustee Melanie Leneghan’s only response was, “take the vote.”
Trustees Mike Gemperline and Leneghan voted yes to approve the resolution to form the committee, while Eichhorn voted no.
According to the resolution, the committee will consist of at least two, but not more than three members appointed by the board of trustees charged to work with a similar group appointed by the City of Powell.
The focus of the charter will be to ensure the development of Sawmill Parkway is mutually beneficial to both the township and the city.
The resolution states the chair of the board of trustees will serve as the representative between the board and the committee.
Greg Tunis and Jerry Beigel were appointed as members of the committee.
In the Jan. 30 meeting regarding the dissolving of the committee, Beigel, the committee chairman, confronted the trustees about the disbandment.
“We have a group of citizens that have given up a significant amount of their time to act on the behalf of the trustees based on the original resolution,” Beigel said. “It’s disappointing to us that after a period of time you are saying ‘we want to dissolve it.’ That’s very disappointing, and then to hear that the resolution is already there without getting any feedback didn’t feel right.”
Beigel was able to get the resolution tabled and the action to dissolve the committee delayed.
Township Administrator Matt Huffman said a member of the committee had sent a letter to be read into the record.
Leneghan quickly declined to have the letter read.
“No thank you,” she told Huffman. “I don’t think that’s necessary. If he’s not here to talk, that’s okay.”
Eichhorn interrupted by halting the vote on the resolution.
“He’s a resident that has put his time and effort in for the last seven months,” she said. “I’m not sure why he can’t be here, but I think we really should show the respect and courtesy to at least let (Huffman) read it. I also want to say disbanding this is a little premature. I think we should have at least let them present to us. I think they worked very hard and gave up many Sunday evenings for seven months.”
Eichhorn did admit to being bias about the committee, because it was something that she was very passionate about.
“I would like to put on the record just how much I appreciate your time, and I really hope they continue to stay active in the township,” she said.
The Gazette obtained a copy of the letter from its author, John K. Hartman, member of the committee.
“One of the hallmarks of successful elected public officials is treating constituents with respect, especially those local citizens who have been asked and volunteered to help with the public’s business,” Hartman stated. “When two of you supported the motion to create the Development Committee to advise the trustees several months ago, you joined in asking the members of the committee, of which I am one, to carry out an important public mission. That is exactly what we have done.”
The resolution to form the committee was approved by Leneghan and Eichhorn on April 17, 2017.
Hartman states that the committee held several meetings, reviewed documents and relative materials for the education of the committee. He said the committee met with the trustees and received no guidance nor criticism.
“We were nearing the end of our data collection and approaching the compilation of a report and recommendations when we learned second-hand that placed on the trustees’ agenda was a motion to abolish the committee with no prior warning or feedback from the trustees,” Hartman states. “Now we hear second-hand that the intent at Tuesday’s meeting is still to abolish the committee before it completes its business and presents its report.”
Hartman finished his letter with the outcry of, “Please treat us with respect. Please let the Development Committee conclude its business.”
Gemperline expressed his appreciation for the time put in and their interest in the community.
“The committee doesn’t have to end. We’re just not going to be sanctioning it,” he said.
Leneghan and Gemperline voted yes to approve the resolution to dissolve the committee, while Eichhorn voted no on the action.