Monday, March 23, 2009

Recommended Reading 6: Planning and Zoning Commission 11th Hour Power Grab?

Between this article in Sunday's "Springfield News-Leader," "Opposition: Zoning plan before City Council stifles debate," the comments attached to it, and a previous "Voice of the Day" column," written by Craig Peterson, the public gets a pretty well rounded picture of the repercussions the passage of Council Bill 2009-040 could have on property owners who wish to appeal to the City Council regarding zoning issues.

They are all recommended readings today.

Personally, I have to wonder if the timing of the Planning and Zoning Commission's move forward with the bill isn't an effort at a power grab before the retirement of Mayor Tom Carlson, Councilman John Wylie, Councilwoman Mary Collette and Mayor Pro Tem Gary Deaver.

Including tonight's City Council meeting, there are only two meetings of the Council remaining before the April 7 City Council election, in which incumbent City Councilman Denny Whayne faces stiff competition to retain his seat against "Springfield News-Leader" endorsed, Zone 1 candidate Nick Ibarra.

Mayor Carlson is termed out and cannot seek re-election. Wylie, Collette and Deaver chose not to seek re-election. Scott Bailes runs unopposed for Councilman Wylie's seat. In all, it is probable there will be 5 new Council members seated after the April election, enough members to make a majority in any given vote of the City Council.

I believe the next two meetings bear even more press and public scrutiny than usual, just prior to the seating of the new Council.

Some background on the issue: Mayor Tom Carlson, in particular, and some of the other Council members, to a lesser degree, have been complaining over the last 2 years that, sometimes, the Planning and Zoning Commission is not doing enough to settle disputes between property owners and potential developers prior to the zoning issues being brought to Council, often resulting in lengthy debates which the Mayor has felt might be better dealt with by the commission prior to being heard by the Council.

Some people believe this proposed solution to the Mayor's request might be over kill.

Such controversial policy changes might be better addressed by the new Council rather than in the last days of a lame duck Council.

Tonight the bill will be read in second reading and Council will have the opportunity to vote on it, unless they decide to table it or remand it back to committee for further review.


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