Regarding proposed changes to the Columbia County Planning and Zoning Commission:
This is one change CHANGE doesn't want, for several reasons.
One, the fact that there is no guarantee that planning commissioners would be appointed from each of the districts is a dangerous risk for our citizens. Yes, we are aware that all decisions should be based on the "good for the whole county." However, each of our districts is different in growth, successes and challenges. It is a good thing to have a representative who understands an issue affecting an area because he or she lives there and experiences the "situation" more often. First-hand knowledge and understanding is a bonus always and a valuable asset we need to keep.
Two, not having a requirement to assure equal representation for each district could potentially open the door for loading the Planning Commission with members with special interests. This is always a threat when the rules are "free for all and anything goes."
Third, the learning curve for a planning commissioner is much longer than one year. We CHANGE members certainly know how complicated the rules and regulations are as we have struggled with them over the past few years. One year is just too short. If we have a planning commissioner who develops a track record of being biased and unreasonable, there are mechanisms already in place and available to the Board of Commissioners to remove that planning commissioner. We see service on the Planning Commission as being "groomed" to be a future elected commissioner. Their acquired knowledge and experience from serving on the Planning Commission would be a plus when aspiring to a higher office.
The question we have to ask ourselves is whether or not the planning commission would be improved if commissioners can be appointed from anywhere, and if their terms are as short as one year and at most four years. In our opinion, there would be no improvement and a huge potential to great harm to our citizens. If it isn't broken, leave it alone.
If there is a sense that there is needed change on the Planning Commission, then maybe we should look at the source of those appointees - the commissioners who appoint them. Maybe the term limits should be applied to the Board of Commissioners, not the Planning Commission.
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