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​West Fork Planning Finding Their Way

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August 7, 2011 by wcobserver

By Steve Winkler

WEST FORK – The learning curve for the newly reconstituted planning commission appeared to be leveling out as they undertook consideration of a conditional use permit and plowed through a thirteen item agenda at the July 21 meeting.

Barbara Lindsey, owner of a one bedroom house on Stockburger Ave., zoned residential, has applied for a conditional use permit in order to operate a bed and breakfast business at that location. The commission set August 18 at 6:15 p.m. for a public hearing and will arrange for public notice to be published in the newspaper and informational yard signs to be placed at that location.

Some of the Old Business items on the agenda went unresolved. Commissioner Shirley Stout moved and it was passed that consideration of Rules and Procedures be tabled.

Mayor Frances Hime clarified the role of a possible enforcement officer for the city. She noted that code enforcement is a multi-person task which may involve the police, building inspector, and someone to review the various applications to the planning commission. Until someone is appointed to these positions, she is the enforcement officer, she said.

Stout moved and it was passed that presentations to the city council will be made by the chairman of the planning commission. Chairman Mike Landa presented a draft Mission Statement for the planning commission which is to be considered a “work in progress.”

HIme and City Attorney Kieklak addressed the commission on a number of procedural matters. Hime reiterated the role of the planning commission in “keeping a consistent, reliable system of how everything is done.” There was discussion of the procedure related to the commission’s legal fees, record keeping, new plats and the commission’s relationship to the county and regional planning offices as well as to the Washington County Court House where commission approved documents are filed.

Kieklak answered a question about commissioners talking among themselves. He reminded them that the Freedom of Information Act applies. “All business gets conducted in the open,” he said, adding that they should not tell other commissioners how they plan to vote on an issue.

The attorney answered Landa’s question about commission members’ personal liability by saying commissioners should stick to doing only the business the commission is charged with such as hearing requests for lot splits, conditional uses and zoning change requests. They should avoid detailed involvement with issues that may come before them.

Landa suggested a cleanup day for the city with volunteers and offered the use of heavy equipment he owns to assist residents in removing “old sheds or stumps.” Attorney Kiklak clarified the legal liability question regarding city volunteers saying that, in most cases, they shared the same immunity to lawsuits as city employees.

Stout said she thought the cleanup idea was great but questioned whether it was something for the planning commission to do.

Commissioner Dave Jones was absent. City Council members Charlie Rossetti, Ed Stout and Anita Lowry were in attendance.​

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