Editor’s note: Over the next three issues, NEWS On the Green will run stories on the two township trustee candidates. This is the first installment.
Shannon Devitz, 41, of 7302 Wildwood Drive.
Occupation: graphic designer for Paramount Games, Wheatland, and owner of Lucky Seven Marketing Group. She has been a township trustee since January.
Tim Gladis, 68, of 813 Valley View Drive.
Occupation: retired police chief and law enforcement administrator with experience in project management.
If you were elected, would you try to put a zoning referendum on the ballot?
“Absolutely not, and I’ve stated this, I think, multiple times. As a citizen prior to getting this position, and I think once I got sworn in, I said it would be up to the will of the people. I learned my lesson. It is not wanted and, if it was, then a group of people need to get together and tell us. I stand firm with that. I will not waver on that. It was a very intense experience for me personally, and I do not want to go down that path again. Absolutely not.”
“The issue has been before the electorate multiple, multiple times. I believe that at some point we have to listen to the electorate, and we’re elected to be their voice. Until such time as the mood changes and the majority of the people want zoning, I think we listen to the electorate.
“Now, having said that, that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing we can do. We have a number of tools that are at our disposal to handle things like you heard over here at the last meeting, with the building and maintenance code, some of the nuisance laws, we can pursue that that way. There’s the Ohio Revised Code, which has a number of laws in that we can use to deal with weeds and grass, abandoned and junk vehicles, property that’s falling down. There’s stuff in the code you can use, and our own building and maintenance code parallels the Ohio Revised Code to a large degree. There’s a lot of things you can do if you have someone who won’t accept the help or the advice and becomes an offender or an habitual violator. I don’t view it as a real problem to proceed against people that are habitual offenders or not paying attention, to try and help clean things up.”
What would your role as a trustee be in economic development?
“One of the things I get really weary of hearing from public officials is, ‘Oh, there’s nothing we can do.’ I don’t really want to hear there’s nothing we can do. What I want to hear is about what things can we do. There are limitations. Township trustees have certain statutory authority, and, in other things, we don’t have. We’re not a city or an incorporated area. We take those tools that we have, and we use them.”
“How do you approach it? I think you have to start with a comprehensive idea on how you’re gonna market the township. Who do we want to be and how do we show people that this is the place to be, it’s exciting to be here, it’s a business-friendly climate, we have affordable housing, we have vacant land, we have a number of things that are very attractive, especially being on the state line. Our friends and neighbors just across the line face significantly higher taxes. Many of them come over here to buy things like gasoline, cigarettes and other items. I think there are things that we have that are positives that we can hold out there as reasons why you would want to come to Brookfield.”
“We can be a link that connects these places that are looking to come here with the availability of the property, the housing and so forth, and try and attract them here and try to help them in any way that we can to see that the taxes are low, the regulations are friendly, the people here are supportive. The key to keeping a tax base good is diversity. If you have homeowners coming in and buying homes, we’re keeping up these properties and we’re enhancing the values of the neighborhoods by cleaning things up, we’re inviting people to live here and showing the benefits of being here, and we show them the pillars that we have of good schools and an involved school system. People are deeply involved with the schools in the community through sports programs, through educational programs. We have good police services, we have good fire services, excellent EMS services, we just passed a road levy, and we talked about paving most, if not all, the roads in the township in the short term. Those things are all things that I think people look at when they look at coming to a community.”
“It’s a unique situation, I think. My approach would personally be we need to advertise the land or the spaces that are available. As a citizen, I was trying to get some people to come here. It was, who do you know that has a space for rent? You don’t necessarily see it in the window. If you go on websites, you do not see them listed. I think that hurts us. From my background, obviously, advertising is key and getting the word of mouth out and letting people know that we do have spaces.”
“I would love to have conversations with current owners that have space and see why they’re not doing that. We’ve been pretty lucky with people just kind of coming here, without us personally trying, but, as a citizen, I’ve noticed that it’s very hard to find spots and spaces. Advertising would be my go-to, personally.”
“We’ve had issues in some of the conversations the last eight months. There’s land, but then there’s sewer and there’s infrastructure issues that don’t always pan out. The public perception is that we’re not bringing businesses in, but it’s deeper than that. Baby step would be let’s advertise what we had. And the other thing is, to me, too, would be maintaining the businesses that we do have. Patronizing those businesses so they don’t go out so that somebody else doesn’t come in. It’s one thing to say, hey, come here, but if we don’t patronize those businesses, they’re not going to last.”