By James Hanlon
Leader Staff Writer
Oxford Township Trustee Jonathan Nold is the Downtown Development Authority’s newest board member. Nold did not replace anyone; he’s filling a brand new seat.
Former Trustee Elgin Nichols had been the Township’s DDA representative until his March 15 resignation from the township board.
The Oxford Village Council then appointed Justin Willcock, a village resident who is not a Township Trustee, to fill Nichols’ seat on the DDA. The township considered this to be an oversight.
At its May 13 regular meeting, the township board voted 7-0 to recommend the DDA accept the appointment of Nold to serve as the township’s representative “effective immediately, with the term expiring November 20, 2020.”
Nold was appointed to fill Nichols’ township board seat on April 22.
“We are not requesting, recommending or even suggesting that Trustee Nold replace Mr. Willcock,” Township Supervisor William Dunn wrote in a May 20 letter to Oxford Village President Joe Frost.
“We would never, ever advocate casting aside a community member who’s eager to volunteer and serve others. Instead, the township is proposing that the DDA’s bylaws be amended to enlarge the size of the board from its current nine members to 10 or more, so as to allow for the addition of Trustee Nold.”
Dunn argued “Given that a considerable amount of DDA funding is captured annually from township property taxes that support township operations . . . we feel strongly the township deserves to continue having a voice and a vote on the DDA board.”
Frost agreed the request made sense. Looking at the bylaws, however, there was a glaring inconsistency with the village ordinance. The bylaws stated, “DDA board is comprised of nine members.” The village ordinance states the board “shall consist of the village president and 12 members appointed by the village president, subject to the approval of the village council.”
Since the ordinance is law, it trumps the bylaws, but the two still needed to be squared. Another issue was technically the bylaws allowed a township trustee to serve as a non-voting, ex-officio member only.
So, the DDA formed a committee consisting of Frost, DDA Executive Director Glenn Pape, DDA Board Chair Nicole Ellsworth and Village Attorney Bob Davis to draft an amendment to the bylaws.
The amendment states, “The DDA Board is comprised of 12 members.” It explicitly clarifies “The Charter Township of Oxford may recommend one member from the Township Board” and “The remaining member shall be the Village President of the municipality or his or her designee from the Village Council.”
That means, including the village president, the DDA Board consists of 13 voting members total. Bylaws continue to allow the village manager and Oxford Chamber of Commerce Executive Director to serve as non-voting, ex-officio members. The amendment was brought back to the DDA board for approval on June 15. The board approved the amendment, 7-2.
The village council approved the new bylaws and Frost’s appointment of Jonathan Nold at the July 14 meeting.
“I appreciate the board’s willingness to push this forward,” Nold said.
“I can honestly say that Trustee Nold, a 30-year Oxford resident, would be an asset to the DDA board,” Dunn wrote in his letter. “He does his homework, asks good questions and considers all sides of an issue before making a decision.”
Nold spent three years serving on the township’s planning commission prior to his trustee appointment. He has owned the small business JCN Properties, LLC since 1998 and holds a master’s degree in business administration from Central Michigan University.
“I look forward to our two municipalities working together (to) make the Oxford community a great place to live and do business,” Frost wrote in reply to Dunn. “The addition of Mr. Nold to the Village of Oxford Downtown Development Authority board of directors will positively strengthen the relationship between our two governments.”
Nold sat on his first DDA meeting Monday, July 20. After Nold’s appointment, there are three remaining new seats on the DDA board that still need to be filled. Frost indicated he would like to see downtown business owners in those seats.
Nold’s trustee term expires in November. He is one of five running for four trustee seats in the upcoming elections.