Butler County commissioners to hold public hearing on removing zoning official

Residents file formal complaint over Daniel not recusing himself with regard to votes on properties his son owns.

Several Madison Twp. residents have asked the county commissioners to oust township Trustee Alan Daniel from his seat on the county zoning appeals board because he allegedly voted on a case that benefited his family.

The residents filed a formal complaint with the commissioners last month asking them to remove Daniel from the Board of Zoning Appeals, where he has held a seat since July 1993. The complaint alleges Daniel voted on several zoning variances for properties his son Todd Daniel owns at the corner of Keister and Middletown Germantown roads, clearing the way for a new Dollar General store.

“Mr. Daniel’s refusal to recuse himself from consideration of this application constituted a clear conflict of interest,” the complaint reads. ”His action constituted an abuse of his office, an abuse of the public trust and a clear case of misconduct in office.”

They are asking the commissioners to remove Daniel from the BZA, rescind multiple variances approved on Feb. 17 and the process be restarted. The commissioners will hold a public hearing on the matter Nov. 1.

Township resident Bret Frank came to the May 3 commissioners meeting seeking their help. He said the community was not apprised of the impending Dollar General development and most do not want it.

The commissioners said they couldn’t comment.

“I think there’s two issues, one is the disposition of the Board of Zoning Appeals case on the variance and the other is alleged potential conflict of interest matter,” County Administrator Judi Boyko said.

“The latter has been sent to the prosecutor’s office for its consideration and review of the conflict of interest matter. Regarding the BZA case for the variance based on Ohio statute for zoning the commissioners do not hear Board of Zoning Appeals cases, you do not have the ability to intervene.”

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County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser told the Journal-News he cannot discuss the matter.

The complaint and supporting documents signed by Frank, his wife and two other couples, notes that Daniel held the mortgage on the two properties in question that are owned by Daniel’s son at the time of BZA vote. If he had not participated in the vote it would not have passed for lack of a quorum on the board.

“Alan Daniel’s actions to approve the variance significantly increased the value of the properties by allowing these changes to permit the construction of a corporate retail store,” the complaint reads. “Thus benefiting him and his family.

Daniel could not be reached for comment but his son Todd told the Journal-News his dad has been a public servant for about 45 years, serving on school boards, as a township trustee for 22 years and on countless committees whose work benefits the community.

“He’s never been beat,” Daniel said of his dad’s continuous public service. “I think the reason he’s never been beat is he’s a good man. He’s done a lot of good for a lot of people.”

He said the property sale was final this week but wouldn’t say anymore. Daniel said his dad didn’t vote on this issue for financial gain he just “made an errant decision.”

“He made a decision and he knows he shouldn’t have made the decision,” Daniel said. “He knows it, everybody knows it and it happens. He’s made thousands and thousands of decisions about people he cares about, people he knows, neighbors. This isn’t the first time he’s made a decision about someone he knows, when you’re in office that many years and you’re in a small community, you know how it is.”

Madison Twp. Trustee Board President Brian McGuire said he hasn’t heard any talk of ousting Daniel as a trustee. Since the township doesn’t have its own zoning the trustee board had no role in this development, “it’s a county matter.”

The Butler County Sheriff’s Office investigated the incident after receiving a bribery complaint earlier in the summer, according to Chief Deputy Anthony Dwyer.

“A complaint was lodged with us about Alan’s activities and it was alleged that it was a bribery, some quid pro quo and money involved, that was the original complaint,” Dwyer told the Journal-News. “That started our investigation which led to multiple interviews and recovering documents. We’ve been in touch with our local prosecutor’s office as well as forwarding information the (Ohio) Ethics Commission. Pending the finality of that will just maintain it as an open case.”

The Ethics Commission could not be reached for comment but generally doesn’t discuss pending issues.

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