Polk considers amending planning board ordinance

Published 4:53 pm Monday, August 12, 2013

“I feel that every community needs to be represented,” Gage said. “This is at least a good look at it.”

Commissioner Keith Holbert said if commissioners can function with two-year terms than the planning board can as well.

Resident Renée McDermott expressed several concerns over the new proposal, including that two current members would be prohibited from reapplying for a second three-year term when they would be able to reapply under the current rules. McDermott said the new plan would also disproportionately benefit the lower population townships over the more heavily populated townships.

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“Sparsely populated townships would dominate the planning board, leaving the population centers of Tryon Township and Columbus Township with underrepresentation,” McDermott said.

She also said the current planning board was not allowed to have a voice in this decision.

“The current planning board was not allowed to have a voice, or even to comment on this proposal,” said McDermott. “It was never even shown to them and they weren’t notified that it would be on the agenda tonight. Why such secrecy? What a slap in the face.”

Pack said commissioners are discussing the changes in public and there has to be a public hearing before anything is adopted.

“So there’s nothing being done behind the scenes,” Pack said. “Unfortunately, (McDermott) is just being political.”

Owens said the planning board is an advisory board that gives commissioners advice.

“According to you (McDermott), the volunteer boards need to tell us how this should be set up. I agree with Pack. It’s all politics,” Owens said.

Gasperson said he thinks it’s important commissioners listen to volunteer boards as much as possible. He asked if it would hurt to get some input from the planning board.

“They may come up with some angles we haven’t thought about,” Gasperson said.

Owens said all the board is trying to do is figure out how to be more representative of the townships and trying to get a mix.

Gage said, “The people in this county need representation that’s what this is about.”

The current planning board consists of regular members Bill Ennis (White Oak), Wayne Horne (Green Creek), David Smith (Columbus) and Susan Welsh (Saluda), whose terms will expire Oct. 31, 2013; Lee Bradley (Columbus), whose term expires in 2014; Lisa Krolak (Columbus) and Christel Walter (White Oak), whose terms expire in 2015; and alternate Michael Axelrod (Columbus), whose term expires in 2014. Members can serve two consecutive three-year terms with at least one year taken off before reapplying. The proposed draft calls for the same stipulations on taking a year off after two consecutive terms, except the board is now looking into two-year terms instead of three-year terms.