BAINBRIDGE — The township Board of Zoning Appeals voted to table the hearing on the Sapphire Creek Winery & Gardens’ variance for maintaining an unpermitted pavilion until October in an effort to fill a vacancy for a full voting board.

During their regular meeting last week, Chairman Mike LaManna explained that because the applicant has requested a full voting board for the continued hearing of their variance, to which they are legally entitled, the board agreed to table the application until their regular October meeting.

“We only have four members that are present tonight. The rules of our operations are that there must be a majority of members voting in favor to approve an application,” Mr. LaManna said at the start of the meeting, explaining that regardless of how many members are present, so long as the board can hold a quorum, applicants need at least three favorable votes for a granted variance. “If there were only three members present, it would require a unanimous vote.”

The Bainbridge Trustees approved the resignation of former BZA member Mike Corcoran, which was effective July 1, during their June 28 meeting. The seat has remained vacant.

During the July 15 BZA meeting, Attorney Bruce Rinker of Mansour Gavin LPA, representing Kathleen Dangelo, owner of the winery located at 16965 Park Circle Drive, requested that the board postpone the hearing due to a lack of a full quorum. He said he and Ms. Dangelo were entitled to a full voting board to avoid the risk of a 2-2 vote, which would be a denial.

Active board member Joseph Gutoskey had to recuse himself for the hearing, leaving four members during the July meeting, including alternate Ian Friedman. The board has one additional alternate, Brent Barr, who was not available for the July meeting, according to Vice Chairman Todd Lewis.

Neither alternates were available for the Aug. 19 meeting, which would have resulted in only three voting members, Mr. LaManna, Mr. Lewis and Ted DeWater.

With the tabled hearing, township trustees are now seeking to fill the vacancy in time for the next regular October BZA meeting. Zoning appeals meetings take place the third Thursday of each month.

Trustee Lorrie Benza explained during Monday’s regular trustees meeting that the two alternates “cannot accommodate [the vacancy] at this time,” so the township needs to consider advertising the position.

She suggested that the township advertise on their website and placing an ad in local newspapers seeking applicants to fill the vacancy.

Fiscal Officer Janice Sugarman added that she can include notice of the vacancy in the Spirit of Bainbridge, the township’s community paper.

The unexpired term runs through Dec. 31, 2025.

Sam joined the Times in 2019 and covers several communities and schools in the Chagrin Valley and Geauga County. She also oversees the features/community events and the website. She earned her bachelor's degree in journalism from Kent State University.

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