When Clintonville Area Commission chairman John DeFourny announced at the July meeting that he and Nick Cipiti would be swapping leadership roles of two key committees, he left a little something out.

When Clintonville Area Commission chairman John DeFourny announced at the July meeting that he and Nick Cipiti would be swapping leadership roles of two key committees, he left a little something out.

Sandy Simbro, a fixture with the area commission in one capacity or another for many decades, is voluntarily stepping down as co-chair of zoning and variance. She's not taking her practically encyclopedic knowledge of city regulations and procedures to the sidelines any time soon, but instead will be looking to pass on her knowledge to others, especially District 5 representative and new zoning and variance chairman Cipiti.

"Isn't it time?" Simbro said last week. "They say we should all be training our replacement, so I'm going, 'As long as I'm the chairperson it's very hard for other people to step up.'

"When you've done something for as long as I have, it's second nature to me."

"It's not a demotion," DeFourny said, adding that Simbro has served as the sole chair of zoning and variance last year, even though the CAC's website states he and Simbro are the co-chairs.

"Nick Cipiti is the chairperson and he has a good support group with that committee," DeFourny said. "Sandy and I are still there and we're involved with the mechanics of the meetings and stuff. Him moving to this committee gives him a new dynamic, gives the committee a new dynamic. It frees up Sandy in some points.

"All this, of course, was discussed with Sandy well in advance."

"It was actually John responding to a conversation I had initiated," Simbro said. "In no way was this a vote of no confidence. This was just, 'Hey, I need to let other people know how to do this.'"

"When I talked with her, she has just had a new grandchild and learning over the last year as chairman of how the committees operated, that's where some of these adjustments are coming from," DeFourny said.

Actually, the Simbro family will be welcoming a second grandchild in early October, and in addition to the demands of being a new grandmother, Simbro said that scaling back her CAC involvement with allow her to spend more time with her father, who recently turned 88.

"I'm very fortunate to have my father still living and doing well," she said.

In assuming chairmanship of the planning and development committee, a post jointly held last year by Cipiti and Mike Folmar of District 4, DeFourny said that he will be looking to continue several of the initiatives already under way.

"We'll be carrying over the gateway plan," DeFourny said, referring to a planning and development effort to get artists to come up with designs for the various entry points to Clintonville and then seeking funding for these signs.

In addition, a new sign at the Whetstone Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, a goal of one day cutting the speed limit on North High Street and parking issues, also along High Street but elsewhere, will also remain on planning and development's plate, the CAC chairman said.

Meanwhile, Simbro will be working to bring Cipiti and others up to speed on the knowledge she's gained in nearly 30 years of involvement in zoning and variance matters that come before the area commission.

"You reach a point in life where you're like, 'You know, somebody else ought to be able to do this,' " she said. "There are other people who need to have a full understanding of what this procedure is all about. Also, I've taken some pretty good hits the past couple of years from past and present members of the commission. That leaves one a little sore, to be honest.

"It's been a labor of love for me," Simbro added. "I enjoy it immensely on the one hand, and on the other hand it's like, 'Let's step back.' "

Simbro won't be alone in endeavoring to pass along institutional knowledge; she said that Diane Hayford, another longtime zoning and variance committee member, will also be sticking around under the new chairman.

"We don't agree on a whole lot, but the great thing is through not agreeing, we come up with a better product," Simbro said. "Sometimes you have to raise questions to bring things to a higher level.

"I would never just drop this in someone's lap and walk away," Simbro continued. "Hopefully, Nick will grow to appreciate the nuances of the position. I will say it is very difficult to be a commissioner and chair variance and zoning. I did that when I was a commissioner. I would like to see commissioners understand and appreciate what the focus of variance and zoning is. The best way for them to learn is to be active participants.

"I won't be too far away. I will try my best not to let anybody trip and fall. It's the mom in me."

But the grandmother in her, Simbro admitted, will now be allowed to spend time with her grandchildren, regardless of when that might take place.

"If I am not going to be in town the first Thursday of the month, the world will not be coming to an end," Simbro said. "Too many times I have thought over the years, 'Oh, I can't do anything that week, it's the commission meeting.' It is time for me to lighten up.

"I have just gotten a little too serious in my old age."