Mayor: County OKs six city mem­bers on 2050 panel

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

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.

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