Red Bank studying planning changes

Red Bank city commissioners passed by 3-2 vote on first reading an ordinance that would change the method of appointment for members of the Municipal Planning Commission as well as reduce the number of planning commissioners from seven to five.

Commissioners voting against the measure were Floy Pierce and Rick Causer.

Mayor John Roberts said he suggested the ordinance, as upon his mayoral nomination, he was looking at the powers he was afforded and felt he had too much authority in the selection of Planning Commission members.

“I believe in checks and balances within our system,” he said. “I feel every commissioner has a say-so in this city, and in order to have full representation, we should let each commissioner choose his own representative.”

City Commissioner Rick Causer questioned the reasoning behind a provision in the ordinance restricting those who do not own real property in the city from being nominated to serve on the Planning Commission.

“I put that restriction in there because zoning does deal with real property uses,” said City Attorney Arnold Stulce. “There’s nothing that requires that provision be in that ordinance.”

Causer said he finds it odd that Stulce would add a provision that would make eligibility requirements for the Planning Commission more stringent than eligibility requirements for city commissioners, who need only live in the city of Red Bank and not necessarily own property, to serve as a commissioner.

Planning Commissioner David Halfey commented the stability of the board is strengthened if the members actually own real property in Red Bank.

City Commissioner Ken Welch pointed out many young professionals are choosing to rent, and the provision would exclude these citizens from participating.

“There are many avenues you can serve in the community; this isn’t the only one that there is,” said City Commissioner Eddie Pierce. “It’s just for this particular commission that restriction would be there.”

Resident Melissa Pierce said some people can’t afford a home, and asked if the clause was discriminatory. Stulce responded that it is “not illegal discrimination.”

“To tell other people what to do with their real property, you have to own real property in this city, is the idea behind it,” said Stulce of the provision.

Resident Kathy Schein asked if those who own property in Red Bank but are not citizens would be permitted to serve on the Planning Commission, to which Stulce responded no.

She said renters would add a different perspective to the board.

“A renter is going to have issues a homeowner doesn’t even think about,” Schein said.

A special called meeting of city commissioners will take place at City Hall Tuesday, Jan. 8 at 7 p.m.


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