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Published: Thursday, 11/16/2000

Police called as Sylvania Twp. meeting is disrupted

The Sylvania Township zoning inspector called police last night after a shouting match erupted between a resident and a zoning commissioner during a commission meeting about a controversial housing project proposed on Wilford Drive.

Chuck Bolanis, who lives on Elmer Drive, and Mike Smith, the commissioner, tangled earlier in the meeting but made apologies.

But a later argument brought two township police officers to the administration building.

Millstream Development Co. of Sylvania wants to change the zoning of about eight acres along the east side of the 2800 block of Wilford from rural residential to multiple family to allow 66 townhouses in 11 buildings.

The developer wants the zoning of 2.7 acres changed in the same area from rural residential to residential for eight single-family homes for a development called Derby Village.

At the microphone last night, Mr. Bolanis questioned Mr. Smith about his position as a partner in Mannick & Smith, an engineering company in Maumee.

His comments came after residents opposed a rezoning along Wilford based on traffic congestion at Wilford and Central Avenue.

Mr. Bolanis suggested that Mr. Smith had a conflict of interest, because of his job. He said Mr. Smith “should not be allowed in the discussion,” because it was clear he would try to help the developer.

Mr. Smith, who is in the traffic study business, could lose business from other developers for unpopular decisions, Mr. Bolanis said.

Bruce Wharram, zoning commission chairman, and other members of the commission quickly took offense to the implication. Mr. Smith said he excused himself for any matter that might present a conflict of interest. Board members backed him up.

However, Mr. Bolanis continued to explain his point. Mr. Wharram tried to gavel him down. Mr. Bolanis kept speaking.

That's when Mr. Wharram said Mr. Smith would not be slandered and pointed his hand across the room and told Mr. Bolanis to “shut up.” Mr. Bolanis kept talking.

From the audience and the front row, Doug Cornell, a real-estate consultant, also told Mr. Bolanis to “shut up,” mentioning that Mr. Wharram had used the gavel.

Mr. Wharram instructed Robert Sabo, the inspector, to call police. The commissioners took a recess.

Officer Jake Albright spoke with Mr. Bolanis about the incident and said a citation isn't likely.

The first argument involved Mr. Bolanis, Mr. Wharram, and Mr. Smith when Mr. Bolanis questioned the loyalty of commissioners who he said appeared to favor the developer over the taxpayers.

As for the meeting, the entire five-item agenda was postponed until Dec. 20, because of a delinquent traffic study and the possible failure by the commission's staff to send notices of proposed actions to residents.

During a meeting last month, the commissioners postponed a vote on the Wilford matter, because they wanted a traffic study. Four commissioners received the study just minutes before last night's meeting. Mr. Smith received his Tuesday. They did not feel comfortable proceeding.



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