planning commission recommends change in appeals process
February 23, 2009 | SMITHFIELD -- The Planning Commission
has decided unanimously that the city should adopt a
one-person appeal authority.
Everyone in the commission agreed that a one-person-appeal
authority system would be the best for the city, opposed
to the alternative of having an appeal authority board.
The next step in implementing the idea will be when
the City Council has its next meeting to discuss and
vote on the matter.
If the council rejects the idea, then the planning
commission will have to come up with a new plan, said
Commissioner Roger Douglas. "If they don't like it,
it comes back to us."
No one has been suggested yet for the position, but
the person will be the attorney for the city if the
council passes the idea. Once hired for the position,
the appeal authority will be under contract for three
years. Once the contract is up, the contract may be
renewed for a year. "Each time the year-long contract
ends, it may be renewed," said Commissioner Jamie Anderson.
All the commissioners agreed that both of the ideas
have drawbacks. One problem mentioned for a board would
be that Smithfield has a relatively small population--about
9,100. This can be a problem because board members aren't
supposed to be contacted by citizens concerning their
meetings and agenda items. In small towns, neighbors
apparently call board members and try to get certain
items passed to help them.
The commission's suggestion to the council was not
an easy one to make. In fact, at the beginning of the
discussion, most of the commissioners didn't like the
idea. Some worried that if one person held the position,
instead of a board of people, that it might be too much
power for one person to handle; although no one ever
said what exactly was meant by that.
That thought changed when Commissioner David Price
emphasized making sure the person hired was capable
and trustworthy. Commissioner Richard Jewkes agreed
and said he liked the idea of the position being filled
by one person. "I'm in favor of having one person as
an appeal authority."