01/24/13 — Commission considers giving power back to board

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Commission considers giving power back to board

By Steve Herring
Published in News on January 24, 2013 1:46 PM

The Republican-controlled Wayne County Board of Commissioners Tuesday morning signaled that it could return at least part of the authority that the county Planning Board lost to the previous Democratic commission just over three years ago.

Commissioners started the process during their Tuesday meeting by suggesting a study committee be formed to review the new and old rules governing the Planning Board's role and duties.

In October 2009 commissioners voted to give themselves the final word on all preliminary and final subdivision plats effective. Current Chairman Steve Keen and former Commissioner Andy Anderson, both Republicans, voted against the measure.

The vote followed nearly six months of discussion and at times strained relations with the Planning Board. Then Commissioner Jack Best pushed for a committee to look at the Planning Board's responsibilities, "so we can understand who is in charge and who is not in charge and whose duties are what."

During one meeting Commissioner John Bell, a Democrat, reminded then Planning Board Chairman Chris Cox that Planning Board members are appointed by commissioners and serve in an advisory capacity.

Bell made those comments after Cox told commissioners they needed to explain their actions on planning decisions in the county.

The issue of the Planning Board's powers resurfaced Tuesday as commissioners were being briefed on four minor subdivisions plats that were on their agenda.

"It is my understanding that it used to be the practice where the Planning Department actually could approve those without going before the Planning Board or the commissioners," Commissioner Joe Daughtery said during the agenda briefing held prior to the official board meeting.

Of the four plats on the agenda, none would have come to commissioners under the old rules, County Planner Connie Price said.

Price said he could have signed off on the two plats that did not create new easement or streets.

Keen asked Price the same question during the regular meeting.

Before the rules were changed, none of these would have actually come before the board of commissioners, Price said again. Two of them would have gone to the Planning Board, the two that had easements, Price said. The other two would have been signed off on by the planning director.

"Could I ask that you work with our attorney and see whether or not we can draft something back to this board in regards to restating, reallowing the Planning Department to actually approve minor subdivisions without it coming before the board?" Daughtery asked. "I think it takes up a lot of time.

"It is inconvenient to citizens to have to wait to go to several boards in order for a minor subdivision that generally, if I am correct here, is family members that are dividing out a small piece of property to give or transfer to a family member."

Price said that was correct.

"I think we need to explore what would be necessary to restate that (the old rules)," Daughtery said.

Aycock said he agreed with Daughtery.

"My feeling is that the county Planning Board should also be involved, their input anyhow," he said. "We have confidence in the people who serve on that board, and I certainly think their input should be in this also."

Daughtery said in light of those comments that he would broaden his comments to include reviewing all procedures whereby the Planning Board operates.

The four subdivision plats approved were:

* Herrera Estates, Final, owner/developer Florencio Ponce Herrera et al, a three-lot subdivision on the east side of Camp Jubilee Road approximately 1,166 feet north of Ada Stroud Road in Indian Springs Township

* Frazier Lots, Final, owner/developer David Frazier, a three-lot subdivision on the east side of Coley Road approximately 650 feet north of Saulston Road in Stoney Creek Township

* Amelia Lee Tusing, Final, owner/developer Amelia Lee Tusing, one lot on the north side of Indian Springs Road approximately 968 feet east of Arrington Bridge Road in Indian Springs Township

* James Barnwell and Revision of Lot 9 Friendship Mobile Home Park Estates, owner/developer James and Mary Barnwell, two lots on the south side of Barnwell Road approximately 1,050 feet south of Potts Road.

The Planning Board recommended approval of all four.