Orange Township trustees Jan. 27 opted against appointing an interim township administrator in the wake of the departure of prior administrator Lee Bodnar, instead naming newly seated trustee Ben Grumbles as temporary point man for staff and for Delaware County departments that interact with the township.

Trustees voted 3-0 during a special meeting to allow Grumbles to formally facilitate the township's staff until a new administrator is hired.

Meanwhile, Grumbles said, he has been meeting with staff members to assess their needs.

He told trustees Jan. 27 the biggest concerns expressed were workflow management and having a point man to serve as a sounding board for township business and communications.

"We didn't think either warranted naming an interim (administrator)," Grumbles told the board.

"So you don't want to name an interim administrator?" trustee Debbie Taranto asked.

Grumbles said he was "happy to take the workload on."

"I've been spending quite a bit of time with staff," Grumbles said after the meeting. "This just allows me to do those things officially."

"It's a good opportunity for a new trustee who's eager to learn," trustee Ryan Rivers said.

The action was made necessary by Bodnar's departure.

Weeks after Bodnar received high praise and a salary bump, trustees voted 2-1 at a Jan. 21 meeting to accept a separation agreement for Bodnar that includes a four-month severance package. Bodnar had been administrator for almost four years.

Rivers declined to discuss the departure other than to say it was by mutual agreement. Grumbles voted with Rivers on Jan. 21 to approve Bodnar's exit. Rivers gave no explanation for not participating in a 2-0 vote last month to give Bodnar a 2.5% salary increase. At $113,000 annually, Bodnar was the highest-paid township official.

Taranto cast the sole "no" vote of the three trustees, praising Bodnar for being a "positive force" who "moved the township forward."

Trustees also voted Jan. 27 to post the administrator position.

They also agreed to phase out the township's longtime solicitor, Michael McCarthy, a Powell lawyer who has worked on a contract basis for more than 20 years.

That decision was based in part on a new agreement with the Delaware County Finance Authority, the county's development arm, which is to assist the township with zoning and commercial growth. Rivers called the township the "epicenter" of a plan to bring more commercial growth along U.S. Route 23.

Trustees voted Jan. 27 to approve a zoning overlay along Route 23 that would streamline zoning for developers and those businesses wanting to move in.

The township will pay the authority $50,000 in the first year to provide consulting, administrative services and zoning assistance.

"The finance authority has the brain trust capable of making this development a smooth process," Rivers said.

The Columbus Dispatch reporter Dean Narciso contributed to this story.

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