Dawn Rye | Writer
After coming out of executive session last Thursday, the Monroe Town Board voted to fire finance officer Sue Hepner.
After much discussion, board member Brad McCoy said that the minutes had things left out and were not recorded. He noted during the March meeting the board ruled that Planning and Zoning Administrator Mike Feste had a conflict of interest with Tim DeWitt’s property.
Hepner said that information was in the minutes for March 12.
“It is mentioned in there but it is not listed as a motion and carried,” commented McCoy.
He explained too that the board hosted a special meeting in March that was called by board president David Kleinsasser that was open to the public.
“It’s a legal meeting. During that meeting, we had a little argument about the ordinances. The way the minutes have been written is not actually how things went. Also, Mike flat out admitted to the board that he lied about the property line. It is not a matter of losing an argument or couldn’t prove it,” commented McCoy.
He said the fact that Feste has property on both sides of DeWitt’s property causes a conflict. McCoy explained that Feste lying and deceiving DeWitt just shows that there is a conflict of interest.
McCoy commented that the motion to fire Feste was legal because it was done in an open meeting. He said the board then made a motion to suspend him at the following meeting, which was silly because Feste was already fired. McCoy noted after speaking with the attorney, he again made a motion to fire Feste and board member Troy Melloon seconded it.
“Is it on the agenda,” asked Feste.
“Mike,” said Melloon.
“It doesn’t have to be,” said McCoy.
“You’re not allowed to speak,” said Melloon.
“I can make a motion anytime I want,” said McCoy.
“If you interrupt the meeting, the law will be called,” continued Melloon.
“Anything I want, anytime I want,” said McCoy.
McCoy told Feste that he had enough of him collaborating on the minutes.
McCoy then asked to go into executive session. After 10 minutes in executive session, the board returned, McCoy making a motion to fire Hepner. Chairman Kleinsasser seconded the motion.
After moving on, the board switched to public comments. Many residents wanted answers to the issues that have been addressed at prior meetings.
Dave Mammenga asked where the attorney was?
McCoy explained the board contacted the attorney and they felt that he didn’t need to be present.
“We already got the answers we needed,” commented McCoy.
Mammenga noted the residents were under the assumption the attorney was going to be present to receive answers on the issues.
Melloon said the board did get answers but the board didn’t want to pay him to attend the meeting.
Ruth Unruh noted she attended the previous meeting and wanted some clarification on why the attorney was not present.
McCoy said the attorney represents the council. So, the board doesn’t have to have an attorney present.
Unruh asked for documentation that the board spoke with the attorney regarding the issues. She said the residents want an attorney at the meeting so they can talk to him. She noted the residents have no way of knowing if the board spoke with the attorney.
McCoy commented that multiple people have been talking to the attorney. He said he has received all the emails that have been in correspondence with the attorney.
McCoy noted they would not be giving the residents documentation.
Moving on with old business, Feste said he wanted clarification on DeWitt’s conditional use permit. He noted the application didn’t follow Section 17 in the zoning ordinances.
Feste asked what the conditional use was and what was the use that needed a condition?
McCoy said that they are not done yet.
“I want some clarifications on it. What is the use that needs conditions granted,” asked Feste again.
McCoy said that the ordinances do not match the town and they need to work on them because they do not fit.
“We can’t throw the book at this guy when we have ordinances that don’t match our town,” commented McCoy.
Feste said he was not asking the board to throw the book at him. He asked DeWitt to follow the ordinances that had worked for six years so far.
Both McCoy and Melloon noted that this was the first building being built in town.
“No, it’s not,” said Feste, noting that he has done about one building permit a month.
Again Feste asked why a conditional use permit was granted.
McCoy commented that he would not answer the question about the DeWitt’s conditional use permit.
“We have full right to issue a conditional use permit. We have already gone through this,” said McCoy.
Feste explained the procedure was not followed by the state zoning ordinances. He noted there was no meeting of the board of adjusters, it was not posted and people were not able to voice their concerns.
“You broke state law when you did it,” said Feste.
“All that was bypassed,” he continued. “State law has on how to do a conditional use permit and you didn’t do any of it. You signed off on it.”
“Well we are not nearly done with this whole project and these ordinances,” said McCoy.
Feste asked why is the board not following the rules?
“I have a feeling whatever I say is going to be quoted in the newspaper,” said McCoy.
“Yes,” said Melloon. “We have no comment.”
“It is just going to be splattered all over the newspaper,” commented McCoy.
Feste continued, asking why his conflict of interest matters when the board’s conflict of interest doesn’t?
McCoy noted he doesn’t have a conflict of interest.
Feste continued, explaining why he felt the board also shared conflicts of interest.
“Your guys’ conflict of interest is just as much a conflict of interest as me owning land next to them,” said Feste.
“I don’t think so,” said McCoy.
Feste said that it is funny that some have to follow the rules and others don’t.
“You fire me to shut me up. You fire Sue to shut her up. You guys are just running amuck,” said Feste.
“No, no, no, there is amuck being ran. There is corruption going on and these meeting minutes have been a joke,” yelled McCoy.
McCoy pointed at Feste, “You know exactly what I’m talking about.”
Feste questioned what McCoy was talking about?
McCoy yelled and told Feste that he was collaborating with Hepner on the meeting minutes and, “You (explective) well know it.”
“No I haven’t,” argued Feste.
McCoy continued, “The way that it has been written it has been totally in your favor for the last three months and it’s going to end.”
Feste asked what about the paper?
“That’s objective,” he said.
“The paper. Clearly. The paper. Personal friendship with Sarah Ebeling, 20 years long,” said McCoy.
“Sarah’s not here,” said Feste.
McCoy said what was put in the paper had so many false statements it was almost “incomprehensible.”
“You guys are so wrong and just keep digging yourself a deeper hole,” said Feste.
“You’re digging a hole,” said McCoy.
Feste asked how he was digging the hole as he gave the board a list of what was wrong and they said they didn’t care.
“We do care,” said McCoy.
The board explained that they are not done with this issue but they were moving on.
Kleinsasser took his oath of office and discussion on a flag for the town flagpole still had residents concerns.
Conversations then changed back to the current issues in the town.
Robin Mammenga noted McCoy talks about changing the ordinances and that is wonderful, but now the board is following the ordinances that are current.
“This town is a great little town and I have been here for 12 years. I will tell everybody that I love my little town. But, I’m starting to not like it quite as much because everybody hates everybody. It’s terrible,” she stated.
“Get over it and let’s move on and let’s just try to work together. Can we do that?,” Robin Mammenga asked.
Melloon agreed. He said he has been here for 30 years and he has never seen this town like this.
Ben Beil said he would like to comment about his daughters being involved with the board members. He noted Feste was appointed to the board by his father-in-law.
“There are two different types of people. The people from Monroe and there is the haters. And there is a bunch of haters in here tonight. That is just the way it is,” Beil said.
Melloon noted Monroe needs to become a happy family again because it was that way once upon a time. He said everyone needs to work on that.
DeWitt explained some people call his house a house and some call it a trailer house. He noted that yes, he did bring two trailer frames in. He noted his frame had some issues as it was bent and twisted.
Feste commented that he doesn’t have a problem with what DeWitt is building. He thinks he is doing a good job.
Mammenga noted maybe the attorney should be present to give the board and residents advice on what is best for the town.
McCoy said he was not going to answer and Melloon noted the attorney told them to answer no comment.
Monroe Town Board fires finance officer