Two members resign from zoning board

Staff Writer

Two members of the Howell Zoning Board of Adjustment have stepped down from the panel.

Stephen Meier, who had been serving as the board’s chairman, and Valeri Morone announced their resignations at the board’s Nov. 25 meeting and to the Howell Township Council at the governing body’s Dec. 10 meeting.

Morone cited personal commitments and a desire to spend more time with her family as her reason for resigning from the board.

Meier said he was not happy with the way his fellow zoning board members were handling themselves.

“I hit the point where I no longer want to associate with [the zoning board],” Meier said. “They used my name to pretty it up. There are too many [board members] talking off-record and being influenced by political pull. All I can do is tell them not to. When I came on [the board], they told me to enforce the master plan and we have done everything but that.”

Meier said he will serve until the board reorganizes in January. His term was due to expire on Dec. 31, 2014.

Meier said he is not resigning as a result of the board’s recent approval of a hotel and banquet facility to be built at Northwoods Place and Route 9. Meier abstained from the vote on the hotel application.

“[The Township] Council has not provided me with the tools I need either,” Meier said. “We don’t have Cox’s book, which was written by William Cox and contains all case law for planning and zoning [issues] so a member can look something up and see what’s involved with it. It makes it simple for a board member. The council refused to get it for us.

“I am not even sure we get the master plan anymore or even just ordinances. How do we enforce the laws if we don’t have them?”

Meier said the master plan — which is the document that guides the growth and development of Howell — and ordinances he has are “from various years” and “don’t always help.”

“I have been doing 15 or 17 years of planning in this town, and if they want people to just agree with them, then I am not going to do that,” he said.

Deputy Mayor Robert Nicastro said he does not fully understand Meier’s resignation.

“I thought Mr. Meier’s comments at the council meeting were aloof and incoherent, and I am not totally clear what his reason for resigning was,” Nicastro said. “I got the sense he felt he was not serving with competent board members, which I wholeheartedly disagree with. He said he no longer enjoys serving, and we can’t force someone to be on a board if they don’t want to be. I thank him for his years of service and wish him well.”

Nicastro said officials are accepting applications for the open seats on the zoning board and on other municipal boards in Howell. The positions are expected to be filled in January.