Commissioners vote to change planning board terms, composition

Published 5:09 pm Wednesday, October 9, 2013

by Samantha Hurst

On a 4-1 decision, Polk County commissioners voted Monday, Oct. 7 to alter the length of terms for members of the county’s planning board to two years and require that an attempt be made to select members from each of the six county townships.

Commissioner Ray Gasperson voted against the move.

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“I think the board should honor the planning board – their discussion and how they voted on this. I feel we’ve had a situation here where, best I can describe it, we’ve put the cart before the horse. I think the first step should have been reaching out to the planning board and asking them what they saw could be done to improve their board,” Gasperson said.

Commissioners chose to change the terms of planning board members from three years to two years. In September, the issue came before the planning board, which voted to ask the commission to keep terms at three years because of the steep learning curve new members face.

Gasperson said the planning board only meets once a month, but there is a lot more research involved than might be for other volunteer boards. He said that is why he thinks the planning board should be on three-year terms instead of two-year terms as some commission seats are done.

Commissioner Tom Pack said comparing commission work to planning board work was not “comparing apples to apples.”

“The board of commissioners have a lot more on their plate than the planning board,” Pack said.

Pack then added that he felt Gasperson’s opposition was political. He also said he remembered Gasperson was not in support of the board of commissioners going to four-year terms.

Gasperson responded that he was never against the board’s terms lengthening, but instead felt it should be left up to the voters of the county and not the legislative body in Raleigh.