Plan­ning com­mis­sion rules re­write nearly fin­ished

Will grant more pub­lic in­put

Maryland Independent - - News - By MICHAEL SYKES II msykes@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @SykesIndyNews

The Charles County Plan­ning Com­mis­sion is un­der­go­ing com­mis­sioner changes, and a new set of rules to be fol­lowed by the com­mis­sion will grant the pub­lic more in­put on de­ci­sion-mak­ing than ever.

Yolanda Hip­ski, the county’s pro­gram man­ager for the plan­ning divi- sion, gave a pre­sen­ta­tion dur­ing Mon­day night’s plan­ning com­mis­sion meet­ing high­light­ing the changes be­ing made to the rules and pro­ce­dures.

Hip­ski and her staff along with plan­ning com­mis­sion Vice Pres­i­dent Joan Jones and Com­mis­sioner Nancy Schertler came up with the rules as they cur­rently stand.

There are six ar­ti­cles in the amended rules and pro­ce­dures. They in­clude di­rec­tives for the com­mis­sion in the re­sult of a tie vote; how the com­mis­sion’s agen­das are se­lected and de­cided on; when a vote can be re­con­sid­ered; and the dif- fer­ent meet­ing types, in­clud­ing pub­lic com­ment.

Pub­lic com­ment was a large is­sue staff con­sid­ered, she said. But an­other prob­lem solved by the new rules and pro­ce­dures is when agen­das are creat- ed, how they are mod­i­fied and when com­mis­sion­ers can speak with each other through elec­tronic com- mu­ni­ca­tion.

“There was no op­por- tu­nity by the plan­ning com­mis­sion to mod­ify the agenda or at least no for­mal process,” Hip­ski said. “Un­der th­ese new rules, that will change.”

In the new process, the com­mis­sion chair­man and di­rec­tor of plan­ning will put to­gether an agen- da ahead of the meet­ing. The agenda will then be voted on and ap­proved by a ma­jor­ity vote from the plan­ning com­mis­sion.

And now, after an agenda item has been de­cided, re­vi­sions or mod­i­fica- tions can be con­sid­ered by the plan­ning com­mis­sion from ei­ther the pub­lic, a com­mis­sioner or staff, Hip­ski said.

“The dis­tinc­tion there is im­por­tant,” she said.

A re­vi­sion to a mo­tion made would change a de­ci­sion from an ap­proval to a de­nial or vice versa, Hip­ski said. A mod­i­fi­ca­tion would just be a slight change to an ap­proved mo­tion.

And “just to be clear,” Schertler said, the only way ei­ther can be con­sid­ered is if a com­mis­sioner who voted af­fir­ma­tively on an ap­proved or de­nied mo­tion changed their vote after fur­ther dis­cus­sion and more in­for­ma­tion was pre­sented.

Un­der the new rules, a mem­ber of the pub­lic would have 14 days to sub­mit a re­quest for re­con­sid­er­a­tion of a de­ci­sion, Hip­ski said. Com­mis­sion­ers would have the same amount of time to file for a re­con­sid­er­a­tion as well.

The com­mis­sion would dis­cuss the re­con­sid­er­a­tion dur­ing its next meet­ing and then vote on it after the is­sue is opened back up in a sub­se­quent meet­ing, Hip­ski said.

Com­mis­sion Chair­man Buddy Bowl­ing said the rules and pro­ce­dures should be re­viewed an­nu­ally from now on to keep the rules up­dated and cur­rent.

In or­der to have some­thing to ref­er­ence in case any changes are needed in the mean­time, Com­mis­sioner Robin Barnes said, some ref­er­ence to Robert’s Rules of Or­der’s most cur­rent edi­tion should be in­cluded in the rules and pro­ce­dures.

Those sug­ges­tions will be taken into con­sider- ation, Hip­ski said, and added be­fore the rules are for­mally ap­proved at the next com­mis­sion meet­ing on Nov. 28.

Bowl­ing said putting to­gether the rules was “truly a team ef­fort,” and with­out the help of Hip­ski and her staff along with le­gal coun­sel, things would done.

There are still tweaks left to be made, but Bowl­ing said ev­ery­one’s ef­forts in the process are still ap­pre­ci­ated. not have got­ten

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