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Broadview Heights residents will vote on four proposed charter amendments Nov. 6

October 9, 2018

Broadview Heights residents will vote on four proposed charter amendments Nov. 6

BROADVIEW HEIGHTS, Ohio – Residents here will vote on four proposed amendments to the municipal charter, which is the city’s constitution, Nov. 6.

On the ballot, the amendments will appear as Issues 16, 17, 18 and 19.

The city’s Charter Review Committee recommended the amendments earlier this year. The charter requires the city to assemble an ad-hoc charter review committee at least once every four years. A charter committee last met in 2014.

In 2018, the committee consisted of City Council President Robert Boldt, who was committee chairman; Planning Commission member Todd Kinzer; Board of Zoning Appeals member Brad Clifford; Parks and Recreation Advisory Board member Suzanne Lambert; and citizens Mary Lou Bennett, Shawn Galek, Tim Garth, Tom Kaiser and Laura Englehart.

According to the charter, both elected and appointed city officials, along with five citizens, must sit on the review committee. City Council appointed four citizen members and Mayor Sam Alai appointed one citizen member.

Here is a rundown of the charter amendments that will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot:

Issue 16

Under the existing charter, members of the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals and Planning Commission cannot hold a real estate license or real estate broker’s license and cannot be a land developer or agent of a land developer.

The proposed charter amendment would remove these membership restrictions so that those carrying real estate and real estate broker’s licenses, as well as land developers and agents of land developers, could serve. 

Boldt said the charter review committee wasn’t sure why these board and commission membership restrictions were originally put in place. He said the purpose might have been to avoid conflicts of interest. For example, a real estate broker sitting on the Planning Commission might have felt lukewarm toward a project proposed by a competing real estate broker.

However, Boldt said such conflicts are handled on other municipal bodies, including City Council, by members acknowledging conflicts and recusing themselves from the discussion and vote. The same would apply to the BZA and commission.

Boldt said the city might have been unfairly limiting its pool of talent for the commission and BZA by excluding developers and those with real estate licenses.

Issue 17

The existing charter says that if the Board of Zoning Appeals holds a hearing on a proposed zoning variance, the city must tell the public of the hearing at least 14 days in advance through a notification at City Hall and in a local newspaper. Also, the city must notify in advance everyone owning land within 500 feet of the property that would receive the variance.

Under the proposed charter amendment, the city could notify the public in advance about the BZA hearing either through an ad in a local newspaper or a posting on the city’s website. The city would still post a notice of the hearing at City Hall and would still notify adjacent property owners in advance.

Boldt said the change is recommended due to the general decline of newspapers.

Issue 18

Under the existing charter, the city’s Human Services Advisory Board consists of seven members, appointed by the mayor and confirmed by council. The board advises and assists the director of the Human Resources Department, which offers help to older residents.

The proposed charter amendment would reduce the board’s size to three regular members and two alternative members.

Boldt said the change is recommended because the city has experienced trouble filling the larger board. Members, who are unpaid volunteers, sometimes can’t attend meetings, and to have an official meeting, a quorum of five members must be present. With a smaller board, fewer members would be needed to achieve a quorum.

Issue 19

The existing charter states that the human services board must meet at least once a month.

Under the proposed charter amendment, the board would be required to meet just once every three months.

Boldt said the committee recommended this amendment because the board doesn’t believe it’s necessary to meet every month. The change would still allow the mayor or human services director to call an extra board meeting if necessary.