–by Mike Jones
PUBLICATION DATE: July 02, 2019
Recent retirees recognized
It was a retiring group that attended a recent meeting of the Sylvania Township trustees. No, they weren’t shy and quiet, they were leaving their current positions and had come to the meeting to be recognized for jobs well done.
One of those attending was still on the clock, John Zeitler, township administrator, though he sat with the audience rather than at his usual post in an office chair against the south wall of the meeting room. John Crandall, chairman of the trustees, thanked Zeitler saying, “We appreciate everything you’ve done in nearly nine years as administrator of the township.” Crandall also noted that before coming to the township, Zeitler had spent about 30 years in the Lucas County finance department, the last 26 as director of the office of management and budget. He noted and praised his nearly 40 years of public service.
Zeitler said, “It’s been an honor and a pleasure,” and added, “Thank you for the opportunity.” He won’t be leaving the public sector entirely. Zeitler intends to remain on the board of The Olander Park System.
The board also recognized the retirement of Gary Cruthers after 25 years with the township road department. Cruthers is retiring as head of the service department, which is charged with keeping everything running, from huge fire engines to lawn edgers.
Rob Nash, road superintendent, credited Cruthers with being helpful to fellow employees, including himself when he started in the department. He pointed out the complexity of the work and credited Cruthers for keeping the operation running smoothly.
After honoring retiring employees, Township officials recognized the efforts of Deb Chany, who is retiring as the executive director of the Sylvania Community Action Team. She was honored for establishing a long-running program which attempts to underline the negative effects of alcohol and other drugs, particularly on children.
Chaney thanked the township for being one of the founding entities establishing SCAT and for continuing to support the organization. She has led SCAT for 20 years.
New Sylvania Township administrator
From all appearances, the shift to Oliver Turner taking over as administrator of Sylvania Township has been smooth. Part of the ease of transition is that the former administrator, John Zeitler, stayed on duty for about three weeks while Turner got used to the duties, the personnel and the rhythm of the office. He said he counted having Zeitler at hand as a big help. “In this kind of work a lot of times, you don’t get that,” Turner said.
Turner had been city manager of Sault St. Marie, Mich. Although the general principles of supervision and leadership remain the same, there are differences he needed to get up to speed on. He mentioned differences in accounting rules between cities in Michigan and townships in Ohio as an example of changes he needs to keep in mind. Due to differing circumstances, he noted this is the first time he has had a chance to learn from his predecessor.
Turner, 36, who spent most of his childhood and high school years in Celina, Ohio, was a resident of Sylvania and Toledo while a student at the University of Toledo and stated on his application that he feels a personal commitment to the area. He added that he considers it his home community with family and friends nearby.
He entered UT with the idea of becoming a pharmacist, but was taken with the idea of public service as an administrator. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2008 and a master’s degree in public administration in 2010, both from UT. While working on his master’s, Turner was a municipal management intern with the city of Perrysburg. That role, he said, solidified his decision.
In 2011 he became the village manager and zoning administrator for the village of Almont, Mich. While there he detected and launched an investigation into what was revealed to be a scheme by a prior clerk/treasurer who had stolen more than $145,000. It turned out to be the same person who had introduced him to the Almont job. In 2014 he became city manager of Sault Ste. Marie.
The welcoming attitude and friendliness of Sylvania Township employees has been a plus, Turner said. He added that he has been impressed by the professionalism of those he has begun to work with.
Turner has also been active in civic organizations, including as a former board member of Michigan Municipal Executives. He served as the chair of that group’s ethics committee. Ethical practices are, of course, important to him but he added that they should simply be part of the overall culture of any organization.
Omni development proposal
A conditional use permit is being requested from the Sylvania Township Board of Zoning Appeals for the proposed development of a residential care facility at 4828 Whiteford Road. The Township’s planning and zoning office and the Township trustees heard complaints from residents in the area after a representative of the developers, OMNI Property Co., of Beachwood, Ohio, held meetings to inform those in the neighborhood about the proposal.
Some concerns voiced had to do generally with the size of the project, its proximity to Whiteford Elementary School and increased traffic on Whiteford Road. George Oravecz, the OMNI representative, said he thinks many of the initial concerns of the residents have been dealt with after OMNI heard the concerns. He said the project, which includes memory care, assisted living and congregate living, had originally been planned to be three stories, but plans have now reduced the proposed facility to two stories. He noted that concerns about traffic on Whiteford should be eased by the addition of left turn lanes being added for both northbound and southbound Whiteford at the entrance to the development. The eastbound left-turn lane will go into the facility, and the westbound will go into an existing residential neighborhood.
Oravecz added the company intends to plant evergreen trees around the borders to allow for sufficient screening along with the existing trees that can be retained.
Plans call for twenty patients in the memory care unit and 44 in the assisted living. There will be room for 88 people in congregate living. Those spaces are designed for people who need little or no assistance with daily living, although they may elect to use some services such as 24-hour dining, housekeeping or other amenities.
The request is scheduled to be heard by the Lucas County Planning Commission on July 24 at 9 am in downtown Toledo on the first floor of One Government Center. The final decision on the request for a conditional use permit will be made by the township board of zoning appeals at a hearing scheduled for Aug. 5 at 5 pm in the large meeting room in the Sylvania Township Administration Building, located at 4927 N. Holland-Sylvania Road.