Positives and negatives to plan of diversifying planning board

Published 9:42 am Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Serving as a decision-maker for the future of Polk County, places an earthen-like weight on the shoulders of planning board members.

Before a bulldozer is cranked these men and women must determine if developments and zoning plans fit within the vision residents have for the county.

Making these decisions, and doing so appropriately, requires a breath of understanding about what it means to be a resident of this beautiful county. Policies and strategies that might work in the eyes of someone with one acre of land in Tryon certainly might not fit all the concerns and desires of an individual with 100 acres in Green Creek or Sunny View.

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Our current commissioners want to see seats on the planning board filled with members from each township, as the board currently has no one from Tryon or Coopers Gap.

Finding members from those areas could add perspective and enhance representation. Ask some Saluda residents about their concerns over the once proposed Mountainside and Ridgeline Protection Ordinance (MRPO) and many will tell you they felt it affected Saluda more than other areas. Citizens from each township need to be involved and an effort to get them to be so is commendable.

There are some potential snags to the idea however.

Volunteer boards in this county have struggled to get and even keep members. Its understandable some might be concerned about yet another limitation placed on individuals willing to offer their time. The Bulletin reached out to a few current planning board members for their perspective and heard back quickly from Lisa Krolak, who has served as chair of the board.

Krolak said she’s willing to give the plan a try, but that she worries limiting board member terms and areas from which they can apply might hinder the overall job of the board. She said she’s concerned seats will remain unfilled as people might think the process too cumbersome to bother applying. Another fear from her perspective is that they might come on board and not be up to speed enough to truly contribute before their time is up.

We’d certainly like to see more citizens involved in the planning board and other volunteer boards overall. While getting someone from each township is a worthwhile effort, we hope it doesn’t further inhibit someone from participation. The end goal is to make sure all citizens are well represented whatever it takes to make that happen.

– Editorial staff, Tryon Daily Bulletin