Friday, August 14, 2009

Urban Garden Task Force Selection Process

(Mostly nuts and bolts, another article covering the discussion of the task force to follow)

Sometimes "stories" take an odd and unexpected turn. The story I wanted to write about the Urban Garden Task Force acted like it was going to head off in a strange direction yesterday and slowed down the process of crafting a posting but, at the end of the day, what I thought might be a problem fell into line and simply became a report about the process of the formation of the Urban Garden Task Force.

You see, what troubled me in the beginning was that at the original Planning and Zoning Commission hearing concerning the proposed amendment regarding urban gardens, the Commission indicated they were going to recommend the City Council appoint a committee to study the issue, and they encouraged those who attended the meeting to apply to be members of any committee the Council might form but, that isn't how the process played out.

Mike MacPherson is the Planning and Zoning Commission's City staff representative. The Commission expressed an interest in a task force being formed to study the urban garden issue and so, as their representative, MacPherson met with Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Jack Wheeler and Planning Director Ralph Rognstad.

"Since the City Council does not have any available time due to the police fire pension issue, Commercial Street Task Force, and other priorities," MacPherson wrote in an email, the trio decided to have the Planning and Zoning Commission "steer" the committee. MacPherson also indicated several Council members had also expressed interest in a study of the issue, including Councilmembers Chiles, Ibarra, Rushefsky and Stephens.

"We invited everyone who testified at the hearing and filled out a card with an address and phone number to participate on the task force." MacPherson said.

The original Urban Task Force, as published in the City's news release, had nine members, four of those named members were Planning and Zoning Commissioners who had volunteered to serve on the Task Force, then, apparently, sometime between that August 5th news release, and the first Task Force meeting, held on August 11, another Planning and Zoning Commissioner volunteered so that there were 5 Planning and Zoning Commissioners on the Task Force. At the first meeting, four new members were added.

The current list of the Task Force members as of August 13, is now:

Jack Wheeler (P & Z) Chairman of the Urban Garden Task Force
Ray Shermer (P & Z)
Shelby Lawhon (P & Z)
Jay McClelland (P & Z)
Melissa Millsap
Curtis Millsap
Galen Chadwick
Petra Butler
King Coltrin (P & Z)
Nancy Brown Dornan
Mary McCarthy
Aubree Taylor
Gary Schafer
Earl Slavens

The Task Force may add more members but, it is my understanding that any additional members may require a vote of the Task Force due to a concern about keeping the Task Force at a number that is manageable.

The next meetings are scheduled for August 18, August 25 and September 1st. Agendas and Speaker schedules are:



Assistant City Attorney Nancy Yendez will speak about State statute ramifications and other legal issues

Director of Building Development Nick Heatherly will discuss zoning, development and enforcement issues

Keith Francis, Public Works Engineering

Barbara Lucks, Public Works Solid Waste Management

Tiffany Frey, James River Basin Partnership will lead a discussion on storm water and water quality management, including pesticides



Director of Springfield-Greene County Parks Jodie Adams will discuss a pilot urban garden program at Rutledge-Wilson Farm Park



Senior Planner Daniel Neal will present and lead a discussion on a draft report, the Task Force will formulate recommendations for the Planning and Zoning Commission and set the date for the Planning and Zoning Commission to present the Task Force's recommendations to the City Council


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