Tallmadge Charter Review looks at future of commission

Krista S. Kano
Akron Beacon Journal

As one of its final recommendations, Tallmadge's Charter Review Commission is working to ensure the continuation of the citizen-led review of the city's governing document. 

The commission has reviewed the final few sections of the charter, dealing with nominations and elections; initiative, referendum and recall; the charter review; and transition provisions, and left them largely untouched. 

The only change the commission will be recommending is that the language dealing with the charter review commission reflect that it will reconvene every 10 years. 

Currently, the charter states that the mayor will appoint new members in November 2020, and previous commissions have simply updated the year. 

Law director and commission chair Megan Raber suggested instead that the language be changed to "November 2030 and every 10 years after" so that subsequent commissions do not have to continuously update that section. 

"Potentially the more times we go through the review, there could be fewer and fewer items to change, and I would hate for us to have to pay for the only item to be on the ballot is the change to the date," Raber said. "I think it may be helpful to have it automatically reset by the language moving forward." 

The commission agreed to the change, and also discussed whether the charter should specify that the commission include Democrats, Republicans and independents, as suggested by Councilman Dennis Loughry. 

The issue of partisan representation also came up when council approved the current commission members. At the time, Ward 3 Councilman Jonathon Bollas asked why there were no registered Republicans on the commission, and Mayor David Kline assured him that there were Republicans among the members. 

On Monday, however, Kline confirmed that there were no registered Republicans on the commission, noting however that sometimes people lose their party affiliation if they don't vote in a primary. 

"I think it's kind of unfair to put a restriction on what party affiliation you should be. Just because if you haven't voted in a primary, that could really hinder the mayor's choices when appointing," member Meghan Thompson said. 

Other members agreed, and no additional language specifying party was recommended. 

The commission also reviewed and approved the potential charter amendments and ballot language suggested during the March 8 meeting about boards and commissions.

Those amendments include:

  • Allowing the mayor to appoint an alternate member to the Planning and Zoning Commission, the Board of Zoning Appeals and the currently-named Heritage Commission
  • Specifying that the alternate may only vote in the absence of a member, or if a member has a conflict of interest
  • Renaming the Heritage Commission as the "Architectural Review Board"
  • Requiring that at least three members of the Architectural Review Board be Tallmadge residents
  • Expanding the review power of the Architectural Review Board to include any overlay district, not just the Design Control District

With the review completed, Raber is drafting the commission's final report, which will include all recommended amendments. The commission is expected to approve that final report at their next meeting on April 5. 

The report will then be sent to City Council for review, and council would need to hold three public hearings and send ballot language to the board of elections by Aug. 4, the deadline for the Nov. 2 election.

Any changes approved by voters would become effective on Jan. 1, 2022. 

Reporter Krista S. Kano can be reached at 330-541-9416, kkano@thebeaconjournal.com or on Twitter @KristaKanoABJ.