Wednesday, August 07, 2002

Deerfield residents want five trustees

By Cindi Andrews,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        DEERFIELD TWP. — A group of residents is trying to increase the size of the township's Board of Trustees from three members to five — a move that, if successful, would likely be a first in Ohio.

        A change in state law in June 2001 allowed townships to have five elected trustees, but the Ohio Township Association says no community has taken advantage of it yet.

        The Board of Trustees, in a recent controversy, permitted senior housing to be built on township-owned land.

        “The senior housing was the last straw,” said Marcia Sullivan, an 18-year resident of the Landen area. “I think little groups around the community . . . they have been kicked to the curb by various regimes of trustees and walked away like wounded dogs.”

        Ms. Sullivan is one of five organizers collecting signatures to put the board-expansion initiative on the fall ballot. “I just think five people up there would better represent a population of 25,000 people,” she said.

        By late Tuesday, Ms. Sullivan's group had collected about 700 signatures — the number needed. However, she said, they aim to turn in at least 1,000 by Friday to provide a cushion in case some signatures aren't valid.

        Trustee Barbara Wilkens Reed said a five-person board would add to the bureaucracy.

        But some residents say it's worth bringing to the ballot.

        “I think it can broaden some of the perspectives on the board,” Brian Cunningham said. “The trick will be to have a board of five to work together as well as a board of three. But I don't think it's an insurmountable task.”

        Zoning Board Chairman Lee Speidel, a former trustee candidate, said the township's adoption of home rule in 1999 gave trustees more power, including the ability to borrow twice as much money. That makes oversight by a larger board advisable, he said.

        The filing deadline for the November election is Aug. 22. The petitions are due to the township clerk at least 10 days before that.


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