Voter guide 2023: Shalersville trustee candidates focus on managing township industrial growth

Shalersville Township residents Jack Bias and Rich McIntyre are contending for township trustee to take the seat formerly held by John Kline, who did not file for re-election.

After 30 years as a Chrysler engineer and another five as a GM engineer, Bias said boredom prompted him to drive a school bus for the Crestwood schools for two years. A Shalersville resident since 1986, he is a member of Shalersville’s Board of Zoning Appeals. He said his regular attendance at trustee meetings keeps him current on events, activities and challenges facing Shalersville.

“I care about the township,” Bias said. “We all know the township’s going to start growing. I just want to make sure it grows in the right direction.”

Bias pointed to a land use survey township officials sent to residents earlier this year and said respondents indicated they were almost unanimously opposed to uncontrolled growth.

Besides the 480-plus-acre Geis development on Route 44 and a proposed manufacturing facility at Beck and Infirmary roads, Bias said a truck stop with two restaurants is planned for the northwest corner of Routes 44 and 303. The township has yet to consider both proposals, he said.

“I think we would like to have growth in the downtown area, but we would also like to limit light industry to the light industry areas. We’re worried they’re going to start building on farmland and agricultural areas. I think they have enough acreage. We don’t need to have more industry than the acreage we already have,” Bias said.

Counting the county-owned airport, Shalersville’s light industrial land totals about 1,786 acres in six locations, or just over 10% of township land, Bias said.

To encourage more residents to attend public meetings, Bias said the township needs a “more active, more accurate website” and a sign outside Shalersville Town Hall indicating when meetings will be held.

Proactively applying for grants to fund roads, parks and energy and building upgrades will help bolster township finances, he said.

A superintendent at the Hudson-based general contracting firm C.T. Taylor, McIntyre has served as president of Crestwood Youth Football and Cheerleading for the past decade. He helped procure donations that saw a new youth sports complex at Shalersville Township Park.

“I think it’s time for me to take a bigger journey and look at Shalersville as a whole, and that I can make an impact on the community, especially in a time when evolution is going on with the industrial parkway,” he said.

Identifying himself as “a firm believer in small town,” McIntyre said he would support “good growth” that stays in the Geis development on Route 44. Zoning codes could be implemented that would ensure buildings are occupied before new ones could be built, he said.

Otherwise, combating sprawling growth could be difficult, he said, acknowledging that some property owners see an opportunity to cash in when developers make offers, McIntyre said.

Growth could benefit the township’s schools, safety services and other resources, but Shalersville must ensure that its roads and other infrastructure are not overwhelmed and that the township’s rural character is safeguarded, he said.

McIntyre said he would remain involved and ingrained in the community and pledged to be transparent so residents know what is going on, especially when it comes to understanding the possible long term repercussions of growth on the Mantua-Shalersville Fire District and Crestwood schools.

If elected, he said he understands his transition to trustee would involve a learning curve and hoped the other trustees and Shalersville residents would support him as he grew into his new role.

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Wendy DiAlesandro is a former Record Publishing Co. reporter and contributing writer for The Portager.