Etna Township kicked off 2011 with organizational meetings of the board of zoning appeals, naming township resident Mark Schaff to the five-member body and resident Freddie Latella to the zoning commission.

Etna Township kicked off 2011 with organizational meetings of the board of zoning appeals, naming township resident Mark Schaff to the five-member body and resident Freddie Latella to the zoning commission.

Schaff, who was named to BZA on Jan. 25 and will succeed Michelle Weber, has been working on the township economic development committee and the comprehensive land-use committee. He said he was highly interested in farmland preservation.

"All the committees I've been on are involved with land use, and I'm very interested in trying to preserve as much farmland as we can in the township," Schaff said. "The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission talks about the rapid loss of prime farmland in Ohio and in Licking County. I think it's reaching alarming proportions, and I want to do everything I can to preserve as much farmland as possible."

Schaff said the processes on the committees are complex and take time.

"I'm a rookie on the committee, so I've got a lot to learn," he said.

In addition to adding the new member, the BZA named Cheri Rogers chair and Rick Cox vice chair. Other members include Claudette VanDyne and Roger Digel-Barrett.

In other business this month, trustees named Freddie Latella to the zoning commission, joining current members Trent Stepp, Roger Young and Bill Essex. Mike Kerner and Jim VanDyne serve as alternates.

Township zoning administrator Chris Harkness said the zoning commission would continue upgrading its zoning code, including current work on the sign code and architectural landscape standards.

"If they get those two things done, that will be a good year," Harkness said. "It's a very slow process because it's in-house, which is good because they're not spending money. It also slows down when there is a major application that takes up their time and takes away the time that they have to do code updates."

Harkness said a current application to develop 86 acres on state Route 310, near the Cumberland Trail subdivision, for mixed commercial and residential use likely would take significant time during the first few months of the year.