12/16/09 — County OKs changes to Planning Board rules

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County OKs changes to Planning Board rules

By Steve Herring
Published in News on December 16, 2009 1:46 PM

It took county commissioners less than a minute Tuesday morning to give their second and final approval to an amended Planning Board ordinance.

The only change to the ordinance was made during the board's briefing session held prior to the start of the mid-monthly session when commissioners agreed to change Planning Board to Planning Department in one sentence that made reference to a budget.

County Attorney Borden Parker pointed out that the Planning Board does not have a budget, even though it does make some expenditures. The budget is actually the Planning Department's, Parker said.

Also during the briefing, Commissioner John Bell asked that a change be made to the minutes of the board's Dec. 1 meeting that indicated he had voted against the ordinance. Bell said he had voted for the measure. The minutes, with that change, were approved during the board meeting.

Bell's vote at the Dec. 1 meeting had been unclear and the "no" vote was reported based on information supplied by the clerk to the board.

Bell, as he did at the Dec. 1. meeting, Tuesday made the motion that the ordinance be adopted, with the wording change. It was approved 6-1. Commissioner Steve Keen, who is also a Planning Board member, voted no.

Revisions to the ordinance, for the most part, were minor and technical such as stipulating that the Planning Board is subject to the state Open Meetings Law; requiring that its studies be subject to the availability of funds appropriated by commissioners; and that it not make any expenditures unless budgeted by commissioners.

The one major sticking point, particularly for the Planning Board, was the language used to give commissioners the authority to remove Planning Board members.

As originally written, the ordinance read, "Members may be removed by the board of commissioners with or without cause."

Keen tried unsuccessfully on several occasions to have that sentence eliminated from the document.

At the Dec. 1 meeting, the board went along with Commissioner Andy Anderson's motion to substitute, "The board of commissioners may remove any member during their appointed term."

Commissioners wanted to ensure they had the power to remove Planning Board members after Parker told them it was unclear if the wording of the existing ordinance granted such authority.

Tuesday's vote draws to a close debate on a trio of planning-related issues commissioners have been pursuing since last summer.

Already approved were amendments to the county's subdivision and mobile home park ordinances that give commissioners the final say on all plats -- a power that they exercised for the first time Tuesday morning.

The Planning Board will continue to review plats and make recommendations to commissioners. At its meeting last week, the Planning Board gave approval to a mobile home park and subdivision and conditional approval to three other subdivisions.

Commissioners approved the mobile home park and subdivision plats.

A mobile home park plat is not considered under the subdivision ordinance because the mobile homes are on rented lots. In a mobile home subdivision, the homes are located on lots owned by the homeowner.

The Mildred Jones (family) subdivision approved Tuesday consists of four lots on the north side of Sanderson Road near Spring Creek High School. The Price Road Mobile Home Park consists of 14 lots on the south side of Price Road just east of N.C. 111.

The plats that received conditional approval were not ready in time for Tuesday's session.

"I will say this is new for the board and we will do our best to more forward as fast as possible," commission Chairman Jack Best said.

Best said that should not be a problem with plat plans as complete as the ones that the Planning Board had sent to commissioners.