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City's Planning & Zoning Board Chairman Asked to Resign

Amid more resident complaints and new details found in an open records request, a member of the Highland Heights City Council asked Planning and Zoning Board Chairman Steve Crawford to resign after he was found to have attempted to build a driveway from the end of Jillian Court to his property on Knollwood Drive without proper permits.

Councilman David Ramler called for the resignation of Crawford, saying, “Mr. Crawford has violated public trust.”

The issue began after a Jillian Court resident addressed council on the issue in July. Last week, another resident addressed council concerning the matter. Both residents stated that Crawford illegally began construction on the driveway in 2014, including transporting dirt from Northern Kentucky University and cutting down trees on public property.

As The River City News reported earlier, Crawford admitted guilt and has stopped construction until the matter is settled. Crawford stated that he didn’t know he needed a permit to build a driveway.

According to documents obtained through an open records request, the city has no documentation of an application for a permit of construction. However, City Engineer and Zoning Administrator Dave Whitacre stated at the meeting that Crawford applied for a permit in August after the open records request was filed. Whitacre said he is currently reviewing the application.

Also found in the open records request: there is no record of a fine or citation issued to Crawford or Krebs Construction, the developer of the project, despite starting construction without a permit.

There is also a discrepancy in the total amount of public dollars used on the driveway project.

According to Steve Lehman, the Public Works Supervisor for Highland Heights, the city has only spent approximately $197 on the project. However, the documents obtained through open records state that the workers used on the project were also paid with taxpayer money, totaling $5,900 to L&S Contractors, Inc. With the total expenses between paying everyone involved in the project and the materials used for the project, the city has spent approximately $9,214.63 of taxpayer money on the Jillian Court project, the documents stated. The documents can be viewed below.

Follow-up emails and phone calls to the City of Highland Heights administrator seeking clarification on Lehman's numbers and those found in the documents, were not returned.

Concerned neighbors have threatened lawsuits if the issue is not settled. Crawford stated last month that he also wished to settle, but said that he is ready to go to court if he needs to.

Other notes:

Police chief Bill Birkenhauer stated that the police department is exploring the possible future purchase of body cameras. Birkenhauer said that he sees his officers wearing them one day, but the city will have to look at issues such as cost, which could be expensive.

Story & photo by Clayton Castle

City of Highland Heights Jillian Court Project