Members of the Columbia County Planning Commission pledged to be more respectful Thursday after welcoming a new member and electing officers.
After an unusually light meeting, newly elected commission Vice Chairman Brett McGuire presented a code of conduct he created and asked all members of the board to sign the document.
McGuire said some instances when planning commissioners did not show proper respect to each other and the public during his first year on the zoning board prompted him to write the 10 guidelines in the code of conduct.
Included in the code are requirements that: the board allow other members and residents time to speak during public debate; members refrain from using "abusive, threatening or intimidating language and gestures" at members, staffers and residents; and Robert's Rules of Order be the official governing bylaws of the body.
It also calls for regular attendance by members, an apparent reference to former zoning board Chairman Tom Sprague, who missed several meetings last year.
"We are all professionals," and board members and residents should be treated with respect, McGuire said.
Commissioner Tony Atkins asked that new bylaws for the board be written and included with the code of conduct. That request did not come as a motion, and board members unanimously approved the code of conduct.
At the beginning of the meeting, the commission elected Deanne Hall as its new chairwoman by a 3-2 vote, with two votes going to Atkins. McGuire was elected vice chairman by the same margin.
Hall, an employee of Morris Communications Co., which owns The Columbia County News-Times, is a three-year veteran of the planning commission and has served as secretary on the county's Greenspace Board.
"I am honored to serve as chairman of the P and Z Board and excited to see the year ahead," she stated in an e-mail. "We have a lot of work to do for the county and I am confident we will be able to continue managing the growth in Columbia County."
McGuire, the new vice chairman, is a former chairman of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce.
The board also welcomed new member Jean Garniewicz, who was appointed by County Commissioner Ron Thigpen to replace Sprague as the representative District 1. Garniewicz, a former property manager for West Lake subdivision, served on the county's Growth Management Plan and Impact Fee committees and is a Columbia County Sheriff's Office Auxiliary member.
She is a 21-year resident of the county.
"I enjoy Columbia County," she said. "We moved to this county and it was much smaller then; and we watched it grow."
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