During its Aug. 27 meeting, the city council’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee recommended for city council approval an ordinance rolling the responsibilities of the Street Naming Committee, Public Nuisance Hearing Board and Building Code Appeals Board into those of the Planning Commission while keeping the Historic and Cultural Preservation Board and Community Trails Commission.
This recommendation was a compromise of a city staff recommendation, made in May, to consolidate all volunteer-chaired commissions into the Planning Commission for the sake of cost and staffing efficiencies and to streamline the approval processes for developers and businesses working in the city.
After discussion with city staff and a few resident speakers, the finance committee, made up of Mayor Pro Tem Larry McCallon and Councilman John Timmer, recommended that the three commissions be eliminated while the more active historic and trails boards continue to meet on an as-needed basis.
At the suggestion of City Manager Joseph Hughes, the committee also recommended that the Planning Commission handle trails items associated with developer approvals. The trails commission will continue in making recommendations relating to trails signage, maintenance and organization of the annual Community Trials Day celebration.
Following the finance committee’s recommendation, city staff will present the proposed ordinance to the Planning Commission for comment and feedback before sending it the full city council for a vote.
“The ultimate goal was to eliminate some of the duplications and some of the committees that do not have a function anymore while still maintaining and the committees that are still active,” Timmer said. “I think what we’re suggesting here does that.”
According to a report given by Community Development Director Lawrence Mainez during the May 14 finance subcommittee meeting, the building code appeals and public nuisance hearing boards meet only when appeals and nuisance complaints are made. The appeals board has never met and the nuisance board has met just a few times in the past five years.
Mainez added that the Street Naming Commission has completed its original purpose of compiling a list of approved street names for new developments to use.
“The trails committee and Historic and Cultural Preservation Board still have work to do,” Timmer said.
“The purpose of the public committees is to take input from the citizenry and help take it to the right officials, to bring things together that the public wants done,” said Charles Kiel, while speaking as a citizen in defense of the commissions. “I think having these committees as a liaison between the public so you don’t get the wild-eyed people with pitchforks and torches at every Planning Commission meeting.
“You also have to think about who’s going to give you a good decision. If it’s somebody who’s volunteering for something they’re passionate about or somebody who just has to make the decision,” said Pamela Bible, historic preservation board member. “The people on the trails commission all walk the trails and are deeply concerned about those issues.”