MRPO and UDO decisions await new board

Published 3:14 pm Wednesday, November 28, 2012

It will be up to the new majority of the Polk County Board of Commissioners to make the final decisions on the county’s land use regulations.

Commissioners reviewed latest recommendations on a proposed unified development ordinance (UDO) and a newly drafted proposed steep slope ordinance that the planning board has recommended replace the current mountainside and ridgeline protection ordinance (MRPO) during a meeting on Nov. 19.

Commissioners decided to schedule the next workshop for a meeting in January, but will formerly set the public hearing on Dec. 3 after the new board approves the 2013 meeting schedule.

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Newly elected board members will also be sworn into office on Dec. 3 with a political switch of the majority. Republicans swept the commissioner election with Tom Pack being re-elected along with new commissioners Michael Gage, who was high vote getter and Keith Holbert.

A new chair will also be selected on the new board, which will now consist of four republicans and one democrat. The current board has three democrats and two republicans. Current chair Ray Gasperson will be the sole democrat with the defeat of vice-chair Renée McDermott on Nov. 6 and democrat Cindy Walker choosing not to run for re-election this year. Current republican commissioner Ted Owens and Gasperson were not up for re-election this year.

The UDO has undergone dramatic revisions to more closely reflect the county’s current ordinances following a public hearing in September that drew heavy opposition to the document.

“I think with the changes that were directed by the board at the Oct. 1 workshop, the document went back primarily to what the current ordinances are,” said county attorney Mike Egan during the Nov. 19 meeting.