County seeks more volunteers for land use plan committee

Published 7:26 pm Monday, August 11, 2008

Citizens interested in serving on the committee should call or visit the county manager&squo;s office to get an application form that must be completed prior to selecting members of the advisory board.&bsp; The county is seeking a representative and an alternate from each township. Each town government will appoint a member and an alternate to represent the three municipalities.

The county has set up a Comprehensive Plan Activating Committee that will help select members of the advisory committee and help outline the responsibilities of its members.

Joe Epley, a member of the activating committee, says the county&squo;s visioning committee worked for a year to develop the consensus of what citizens want for the county. The county government is now ready to hire a professional group to produce the comprehensive land use plan that will help achieve the county&squo;s vision. Members of the Comprehensive Land Use Plan Advisory Committee will assist those professional planners in crafting proposed regulations to best meet the county&squo;s future goals.

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&dquo;During our township meetings, many citizens stepped forward not only urging a comprehensive plan, but also urging the appointment of a citizens committee to work with the planners,&dquo; says Epley. &dquo;The board of commissioners has agreed to appoint a committee that is representative of all six townships as well as the three municipalities to advise on the planning process. &bsp;

&dquo;Rarely does a community provide its citizens this opportunity to be a part of an historic process that will move our county into a new era of protection for our beauty, rural atmosphere and fragile environment.&dquo;

County commissioners approved the creation of the advisory committee during their July 21 meeting. The following is a portion of the minutes from that meeting relating to the committee&squo;s formation.

Commissioner (Ted) Owens made the motion to create a Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee as follows:

(1) Citizen from Columbus Township

(1) Citizen from Coopers Gap Township

(1) Citizen from Green Creek Township

(1) Citizen from Saluda Township

(1) Citizen from Tryon Township

(1) Citizen from White Oak Township

(1) Citizen from the City of Saluda

(1) Citizen from the Town of Columbus

(1) Citizen from the Town of Tryon

The citizens representing the city and towns are to be recommended by each entity&squo;s governing boards.

Prior to the (board of commissioners) appointing the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee, a Comprehensive Plan Activating Committee made up of Joe Epley, Marshall Monroe, and Cathy Ruth, along with chairman Melton and commissioner Pack as advisors, will meet.

The duties of this committee shall be:

&ull; Receive and interview consultant applicants and recommend to (board of commissioners) 5 to 7 applicants for presentation and selection.

&ull; Receive and interview townships&squo; applicants for the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee.

&ull; Along with the consultant draw up the duties, responsibilities and terms of each member of the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee (by-laws) for approval by the (board of commissioners).

Upon the approval of the by-laws make recommendations as to who should be appointed to the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee. (Note: At this point the work of the Comprehensive Plan Activating Committee is complete and the committee shall be dissolved with appreciation for &dquo;a job well done.&dquo;)

The BOC (board of commissioners) shall take these recommendations and appoint members of the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee. With this action this committee is activated and becomes a working board of the Polk County government.

Commissioner Pack seconded the motion. There was discussion over the number of alternates. It was the consensus to have an alternate from each town and township. The activating committee should decide how this will work. There will be nine members and nine alternates.

Citizen comments. (1) Rebecca Kemp requests that Pacolet Area Conservancy (PAC), representing the environmental community, be a member of the Citizen Oversight Committee. (2) Renee McDermott referred to the &dquo;volunteer committee application&dquo; and suggested adding &dquo;other qualifications&dquo; to the draft application. (3) Dave Maxwell congratulated the board on the speed in the formation of the committee, and also supports PAC on the committee as well as consideration for farmland preservation. (4) Susan Johann urged membership from the farmland preservation population.

Commissioner Watson questioned the other commissioners on the other committees such as PAC and why we would or would not include them. He felt including all towns and townships would be the fairest and best representation of all of Polk County. The size of the committee was also a factor ‐ you should apply through your township or alternate. Commissioner (Harry) Denton said groups such as farmland preservation should apply. Commissioner Pack said he thinks the structure of the committee is fair and no favoritism will be shown to one group.

Commissioner Owens said he feels the activating committee members who were involved with the visioning committee will let commissioners know how they feel, and commissioners should let them recommend and have a say in what is going on.

Board of commissioners chairman Melton said he originally felt the board of education should be represented and later considered that was not in the best interest of what this committee needs to be. He said he thinks it is critically important that the townships and municipalities be represented. If PAC and any other organization chooses to be represented, he said he hopes they will apply through the application process. Commissioner Owens&squo; motion, seconded by commissioner Pack, carried unanimously.