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Miami Township

Zoning Inspector Richard Zopf terminated from position

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During the most recent regular meeting of the Miami Township Board of Trustees on Monday, Dec. 4, longtime Zoning Inspector Richard Zopf was terminated from his position, which he’s held for 24 years.

The termination took place after Zopf gave what would be his final zoning report to the board.

In prefacing a motion for the termination, Trustee Chris Mucher pointed to Trustee Chair Marilan Moir’s work over the past year to make the Township’s zoning processes “a little more efficient, a little more responsive” by instituting online applications for zoning permits. He also cited the trustees’ work over the last several months to “redirect some of the responsibilities to different personnel within the zoning department.”

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“We’re going to make some of those changes in personnel,” Mucher said. “And as a result, this will be Mr. Zopf’s last meeting this evening, and I’m going to make a motion to terminate his employment as of today.”

Moir seconded the motion; Trustee Don Hollister recused himself, citing a personal relationship with Zopf. Both Mucher and Moir approved the motion, with Hollister abstaining from the vote.

Following the vote, Mucher thanked Zopf for his years of service, stating that his position as zoning inspector was “a thankless job 99.9% of the time.”

“As a whole, I really appreciate everything that you did,” Mucher said.

Neither the trustees nor Zopf spoke on the reason for the termination at the meeting. In a follow-up call with the News, Moir said the Board of Trustees declined to comment publicly on the termination. The News also reached out to Zopf for comment, but that call was not returned by press time.

Zopf was hired by Miami Township as zoning inspector in 1999. The duties of the position, as outlined by the Miami Township website, have included issuing zoning permits for new construction and signs in the township.

As zoning inspector, Zopf also, until recently, acted as an administrator for the Board of Zoning Appeals, or BZA, a quasi-judicial body that adjudicates zoning appeals on behalf of the Township, and for the Zoning Commission, which reviews potential amendments to the Township’s zoning code; and as a liaison between the Board of Trustees and the two zoning boards.

Those parts of Zopf’s zoning inspector duties were redirected during a July 17 meeting in which several changes were made to the processes of the BZA.

As Mucher noted during the Dec. 4 meeting, the trustees voted in July to remove the administrative duties for the BZA from Zopf’s job description, and to hire a separate person to administer BZA meetings and keep track of zoning applications. BZA Chair Richard Silliman has been filling that role in the interim period.

The changes in BZA procedure and in Zopf’s position were made following complaints from local resident Steve Wirrig about Zopf. Wirrig cited poor communication and repeated difficulty in receiving requested information from Zopf while attempting to gain a temporary conditional use permit to hold a series of outdoor shows at his family’s pavilion to be hosted by comedian Dave Chappelle; that permit was ultimately approved.

Wirrig voiced his complaints at a June meeting of the trustees, at which he called for Zopf’s resignation. In July, Moir responded to the resignation request by saying the trustees were “taking a more procedural approach.”

“We’ll separate the BZA and leave [Zopf] with just his inspector duties,” she said.

Moir told the News this week that former Village Planning and Zoning Administrator Denise Swinger will be acting as interim zoning inspector following Zopf’s termination; Swinger retired from her eight-year position with the Village in June.

“[Swinger is] going to help us with organizing our records and do our records retention, she’s going to attend Zoning Commission meetings and she’s going to help us define what we need for the future,” Moir said. “She’s basically going to help us write the job description [for zoning inspector] and help us get to the next stage of hiring.”

The Dec. 4 trustees meeting also featured a presentation from solar company Vesper Energy on a proposed new, potential utility-scale solar project slated for Miami Township and surrounding Greene County; the News will report on that presentation in next week’s issue.

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2 Responses to “Zoning Inspector Richard Zopf terminated from position”

  1. Georgia Lindsey says:

    Wirrig wanted Zopf to resign due to poor communication, difficulty getting information. Waaa waaa waaa. Using that criteria local and state government offices, utilities, cable, cell service and customer service for most businesses should all resign. What an entitled brat.

  2. Georgia Lindsey says:

    Wirrig wanted Zopf to resign due to poor communication, difficulty getting information. Waaa waaa waaa. Using that criteria the entire Ohio Board of Nursing should resign, the DMV, phone support of most businesses, utilities, etc. What a spoiled brat.

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