City de­mands seven seats on 2050 panel, but county over­rides

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - ROB DEWIG rdewig@cov­

The idea was for a 13-mem­ber cit­i­zens’ panel to fo­cus on the de­tails of the 2050 Plan’s min­i­mum lot sizes and the pro­posed “trans­ferrable devel­op­ment rights.” But things are in flux.

The Cov­ing­ton City Coun­cil voted Mon­day to re­quest rep­re­sen­ta­tion on the board equal to that of the county com­mis­sion­ers. But the county quashed that idea Tues­day, unan­i­mously de­cid­ing to leave the num­ber

of mem­bers on the panel at 13. The city’s idea to ap­point one panel mem­ber per coun­cil­man would have pushed that num­ber to 20.

The city has paid as much for the plan as the county — $50,000 per year — so the city would like the same rep­re­sen­ta­tion on the panel, city officials agreed.

Un­der the plan pro­posed by the plan’s Lead­er­ship Coali­tion, the panel is to be made up of one mem­ber ap­pointed by each com­mis­sioner, one by each mu­nic­i­pal­ity, one by the school board and one by the sewer and wa­ter au­thor­ity. County officials on Tues­day de­cided to leave it that way.

Mayor Ron­nie John­ston on Mon­day asked for nom­i­na­tions for the city’s panel nom­i­nee. Keith Dal­ton nom­i­nated Buddy Mor­gan.

And then things changed. Coun­cil­man Chris Smith pointed out that the city

To me, per­son­ally, I think one (ap­point­ment) is not right. I think we should have equal rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

— Chris Smith Cov­ing­ton coun­cil mem­ber

has matched the county in pay­ing for the plan, and the makeup of the board was clearly skewed to the county’s ben­e­fit.

“To me, per­son­ally, I think one (ap­point­ment) is not right,” Smith said. “I think we should have equal rep­re­sen­ta­tion.”

Coun­cil­woman Hawnethia Wil­liams agreed: “There are very few times we see the same way (as the com­mis­sion­ers) based on who we are and who we rep­re­sent.” She said a sin­gle Cov­ing­ton ap­pointee could be eas­ily “over­whelmed” by six from the county.

John­ston said the city will cer­tainly be af­fected by the 2050 Plan, as it’s des­tined to con­tain much of the TDR “re­ceivers”; in other words, the land devel­op­ment rights un­us­able in the eastern half of the county can be sold by landown­ers there to in­crease den­sity in the city.

That bit of the TDR con­cept has not been much dis­cussed, John­ston said, but it should be.

“I’d be happy to call them (the county) and say the city’s po­si­tion is ‘no panel with­out six mem­bers, maybe seven,” he said. “This (plan) is no small thing. This is a big deal.”

The coun­cil agreed with the higher num­ber, seven, with one panel mem­ber ap­pointed by each coun­cil mem­ber and one by the mayor.

John­ston ac­knowl­edged that the county might sim­ply de­cide to move on with the panel with Cov­ing­ton’s in­put. But Cov­ing­ton re­tains the right to com­pletely opt out of the 2050 Plan, he added.

County Com­mis­sion Chair­man Keith El­lis on Tues­day said a 20-mem­ber panel as pro­posed by the city would be too large to do get any­thing done.

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