Troy council members criticize Lutz’s comments as political, ‘error in judgment’

Council president, who will run against mayor, stands by comments tied to ‘Tavern’ case

TROY — Two Troy City Council members Monday chastised the council president for comments at an Oct. 31 meeting criticizing the mayor and city service-safety director’s actions involving a building in the city historic district.

Council President William “Bill” Lutz told a crowded council chambers Oct. 31 that Mayor Robin Oda and Patrick Titterington, city service and safety director, had not asked council until that meeting for any guidance or action involving the 112-118 W. Main St. building since it was damaged in a 2020 tornado that hit downtown.

The building, which has portions dating to the 1840s and served as an early courthouse, is at the center of a legal battle over a proposal to demolish it.

Before his comments directed at the two, Lutz noted that council rules limited his role and directed the president to avoid any appearance of partisanship. He said, though, that circumstances led him to make further remarks.

“Those individuals that have the responsibility of running this community on a day-to-day basis have again failed to clearly communicate any strategy to our elected council members of this community and have placed the city council in a precarious position,” Lutz said.

Lutz is running for mayor against Oda next year. Both are Republicans.

Council members Lynne Snee and Bobby Phillips at this Monday’s meeting said the comments disregarded council rules and were political.

The statement “was a great error in judgment and … probably was the most blatant act of political pandering I’ve ever witnessed in my 13 years on this body,” Phillips said.

Snee said council members who disagree with the mayor and/or service director can discuss concerns with them privately at any time.

“I would urge the council president to avoid the appearance of taking advantage of his position and ability to control council meeting agendas to further his current political campaign,” Snee said.

“While elected officials may disagree … I am confident we all have the best interest of Troy as a priority,” Snee added.

That comment was met by boos by some gathered for the meeting, which included two resolutions involving the Tavern or IOOF building at 112-118 W. Main St.

Council President Lutz said after this Monday’s meeting that he stood by his comments of Oct. 31 and specifically mentioned where he defended council’s role at this point and explained the resolutions that were before council that night. He did not specifically address the criticisms of the mayor and service director.

Council voted Monday to suspend the rules of procedure and to approve a request by administrators for more money for a law firm that had represented challenges of the city planning board and Board of Zoning Appeals’ approval of a certificate of appropriateness to demolish the building.

A Miami County judge Oct. 11 overturned those approvals. The judge’s ruling was subsequently appealed by the building owner 116 West Main Street to the 2nd District Court of Appeals on Oct. 24.

A second request before council — for council to approve the city joining the appeal — failed to receive enough votes to suspend the rules and hold a vote. Council’s next meeting is Nov. 21, which would be beyond the 30 day appeal-filing period.

Titterington said Tuesday the city would not appeal.

“We would continue to monitor the case briefings and filings in case we need (or are asked by the court) to weigh in on any of the filings,” he said.

Council on Monday again heard a series of comments from members of the Troy Historic Preservation Alliance and others about the 112-118 W. Main St. property. Those speakers again called on the city to work with organizations and individuals to save the building.

Christy Shell of Troy Community Works, a nonprofit organization that renovated a building on the Public Square using tax credits and other funding, said the organization would be willing to work on a project.

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