BETHEL TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WDTN) — The Bethel Township Board of Trustees in Miami County held an emergency meeting over a decision made by the Miami County Board of Elections.

The three Bethel Township trustees, Don Black, Beth van Haaren and Julie Reese, along with the township fiscal officer, Deborah Watson and township administrator and fire chief Andy Erhart were all in attendance. The public officials met inside of the Township Meeting Room on Friday, Feb. 24 at 12 p.m. for an emergency meeting.

During the meeting, Erhart made the main opening remarks to begin the meeting. There was a lot of discussion between the different trustees in coming to a decision on whether the township should hire an attorney to appeal the decision of the Miami County Board of Elections, which could then get the Ohio Attorney General involved in getting an opinion in the case and seeing whether the Ohio Supreme Court would uphold the opinion.

The board of elections is said by the board to have made a decision on the D.A. Bowman Construction rezoning referendum on Wednesday, Feb. 22.

The problem surrounds that the Miami County Board of Elections did not approve a petition. Members of the public got together and created a petition to try and get their voices heard after a property owner put in an application in October 2022 and wanted to change their 93 acre parcel. The property owner wanted it to change for 60 acres to be rezoned into 20 different 3 acre properties.

“As per Ohio Revised Code, residents have 30 days to gather a petition together with enough signatures and they did that, turned it in in a timely fashion,” van Haaren said.

The decision was approved by the township at the time for the change, but was not approved in enough time by the trustees, according to the board.

The Bethel Twp. Board of Trustees took 16 days instead of the 14-day requirement, which is longer time period than the Ohio Revised Code allows, van Haaren said.

Bowman Construction is the construction company that was looking to build houses.

Van Haaren says in the event the trustees would vote on if the resolution would pass, the township would attempt to appeal the decision of the board of elections to the Ohio Supreme Court in an “expedited process”.

Trustee Beth van Haaren was the first to vote “no” on the resolution, followed by a “yes” vote from Trustee Julie Reese. Trustee Don Black eventually voted “no” on the resolution after a long open discussion with members in the room, making the resolution fail on the record.

If the Miami County Board of Elections would have certified the petition, the resolution would have had a chance to be on the upcoming ballot.

The public was well-represented in the meeting with about a dozen members of the public attending the meeting in southeast Miami County.

2 NEWS reached out to the Miami County Board of Elections for comment on the results, but a representative said no one was currently available to speak.