WEATHERSFIELD Ethics commission forgoes acting on trustees' allegation

The issue involved statements the trustee made about a zoning change.
MINERAL RIDGE -- Weathersfield Township trustees have been informed by the Ohio Ethics Commission that an allegation by two trustees of possible ethics violations in May 2004 by fellow trustee John Vogel is not an issue within the commission's jurisdiction.
A commission investigative attorney responded to a letter from then-trustee chairman James Stoddard and current trustee chairman Fred Bobovnyk, who questioned whether Vogel may have been misusing his position.
Julie M. Korte wrote that that after reviewing documents and materials sent by trustees and "monitoring events for additional allegations," the commission "is unable to respond to the issues you raised."
The commission said the issue regarding "misuse of official position" by a township trustee "does not appear to be an issue within the commission's jurisdiction."
The commission's reply came June 24, but Vogel was critical of Stoddard at the trustees meeting Thursday for not informing him of the letter until July 8. Vogel said he was not informed of the decision by mail from the commission.
Trustees had questioned whether a township trustee who must make a decision on a zoning issue should be allowed to make a statement or a decision about that issue prior to an open meeting of trustees.
Trustees Stoddard and Bobovnyk wrote to the OEC that Vogel attended a public meeting of the township Zoning Board in February 2004, and gave sworn testimony that he was against a proposed request from the Seventh Day Adventist Church for a zone change from residential to commercial.
The zone change was ultimately denied by the zoning board.
Vogel said in a letter to trustees responding to the decision that their initial complaint was based on his discussing the zoning issues with residents of the Country Meadows development.
He said in his response to the commission he "freely admitted to meeting with those residents on a number of occasions and I freely admitted to my support of their efforts."
He added he "failed to see any difference between his actions and those taken by zoning personnel in their support of the potential builder in its efforts to secure permits for the project."
Formal resolution
Trustees Thursday passed a formal resolution presented to them by Township attorney William Roux to file a lawsuit against Cattron Communications, a division of Cattron Group Inc., Staley Communications Inc., SBC and/or SBC Ohio and all other appropriate people or entities.
The lawsuit was approved by trustees in June, and chairman Bobovnyk said after the meeting the township is seeking to recoup between $22,000 and $30,000 for back payments for phone lines that were never usable in the activation of a new fire department notification system.
Vogel asked that trustees add to the resolution that the township should not deliberately do business with any of the companies named.
But his motion died for lack of a second and he refused to vote on the final resolution. It passed by a 2-0 vote.

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