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Monroeville Council cuts zoning board from 5 to 3 members

| Wednesday, April 9, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

The five-member Monroeville Zoning Hearing Board was reduced to three members Tuesday, despite accusations of political hubris.

Councilman Paul Caliari, liaison to the zoning board, said he spearheaded the reorganization of the board because a five-member board was unnecessary.

He said the intent was to save taxpayers money.

Each board member receives $150 per month, whether the board meets or not, officials said. Caliari's proposal will shave $3,600 from the $29.4 million municipal budget.

Monroeville resident Len Young argued at council's April 3 workshop meeting that officials could have reduced the pay for each of the five zoning board members or cut the payment all together.

“Just keep the five members on there and don't pay them,” Young said.

Councilman Nick Gresock said Tuesday that while he thinks a three-member board is capable of handling zoning requests in Monroeville, board members should not be paid on months they don't meet.

Gresock said he plans to introduce a proposal at the May 13 council meeting to change that.

Council also voted Tuesday to appoint three members to the newly formed zoning board, but the vote quickly was deemed to be in violation of the Home Rule Charter, which states that board members cannot be appointed until 30 days after they're nominated.

When a Monroeville resident informed council they were in violation, Solicitor Bruce Dice determined the vote was void.

“I should have known about it,” Dice said. “You should follow the process under the Home Rule Charter.”

Former zoning board member John Yakim, who was removed amid the reorganization, said the vote by council was personal.

Yakim is a former council candidate and a political ally of four former council members — Bernhard Erb, Lois Drumheller, Diane Allison and Clarence Ramsey — who appointed him in September.

Councilmen Gresock, Jim Johns and Steve Duncan voted against Yakim's appointment.

The vote followed a series of clashes between the two political factions in 2013.

Kyle Lawson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8755, or klawson@tribweb.com.

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