After abandoning an ordinance considered in November, the Columbia County Commission approved the first reading of updated rules for the county's planning board during a Tuesday meeting.
Columbia County Planning and Zoning Commission members are appointed to their seats by the county commissioner residing in their same district.
In a previous draft of the ordinance, a commissioner could unseat the planning commissioner he or she appointed at their pleasure. The new ordinance allows commissioners to remove a planning board member from office with a majority vote so long as the commissioner who appointed the board member agrees.
Before last month, there were no written rules governing the method by which a planning commissioner could be removed from office, said Commissioner Ron Thigpen.
What remained in the new ordinance from the previous draft is a stipulation requiring planning commissioners to resign if they declare an intent to seek an elected office and start collecting campaign contributions.
Commission Chairman Ron Cross said last month that the provision stemmed from complaints he heard from developers worried about working with former planning Commissioner Brett McGuire, who recently lost a bid for a state Senate seat.
Though there is no evidence that any planning commissioner ever used their position to garner campaign support, the potential for abuse existed, Cross said.
McGuire resigned from the planning commission Saturday due in part to the controversial changes and Cross' criticism.
"I don't want to play games," he said Tuesday.
McGuire and other planning commissioners opposed the changes approved by the commission.
Commissioners likely will give final approval to the ordinance at their Dec. 18 meeting.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.