Mayor: County OKs six city members on 2050 panel
So there are now 18 members on the 2050 citizens’ panel. Probably.
Thursday afternoon, Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston said county officials gave a little on the city’s request for equal representation on the planned 13-member panel formed to discuss the details of the plan for the county’s growth.
“As of right now, this is kind of tentative, but it looks like they are going to give the city of Covington six seats on the panel,” Johnston said. “That would put us at parity with the county.”
Before Thursday’s final 2050 Plan public hearing, County Commission Chairman Keith Ellis spoke to Commissioner John Douglas – the first commissioner he said
he’d spoken to about the panel on Thursday.
“It’s one of those things we’re going to have to work out,” he said of the panel. “We’ve got a lot invested in our county and the city and we’re going to work it out. We’re going to work it out.”
The panel proposal became controversial shortly after it was proposed. Originally, the leadership coalition that drafted the plan and the baseline ordinances to enforce it recommended a 13-member panel composed of one member appointed by each county com- missioner, one by each municipality, including Covington, one by the school board and one by the water authority.
But Monday night, the Covington City Council agreed without voting on anything to ask the county for more appointees – seven in all, one for each council member and one for the mayor. That would have put the panel at 20.
The next night, county commissioners decided, again without voting on anything, to leave the panel at 13.
“It’s going to be too large for them achieve what they’ve been tasked to do” if membership was increased that much, Ellis said Tuesday.
The city and county paid equally for the plan, which led city councilman Chris Smith to ask for equal representation. The rest of the council members agreed with his thinking Monday, actually upping the ante to seven members – one for each council member and the mayor.
“To me, personally, I think one (appointment) is not right,” Smith said. “I think we should have equal representation.” That number was lowered to six Thursday, Johnston said, to be truly equal with the county’s representation. The total number of panelists would be 19.
The panel’s purpose is to, at first, discuss the controversial 20- and 10-acre minimum lot sizes in the county’s eastern reaches, and the transferrable development rights provision. The panel won’t vote on anything, said county attorney W. Thomas Craig, so members can choose whether to open their meetings to the public.
Who’s on it
To date, three members of the panel have been appointed. On Tuesday, Ellis appointed Wayne Haynie, an engineer who specializes in wastewater, Douglas appointed Sandy Morehouse, the owner of Burge Plantation, and Commissioner Nancy Schulz appointed Michelle Porteous, chair of the Windcrest Homeowners Association.
The commissioners’ appointments do not have to come from their districts; they are free to choose anyone for the panel.