PE Board Eyes Hearing Process

Published 5:03 pm Thursday, March 15, 2012

PRINCE EDWARD – The time between issues before the planning commission that require public hearings and a recommendation for the board of supervisors can span nearly two months.

That could change.

“The planning commission requested that the board consider going back to the former policy where they would immediately go ahead and submit the advertisements in the newspaper to cut out basically that extra month,” County Administrator Wade Bartlett relayed at the board's March 13 meeting.

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The move would be turning the clock back to the procedure used several years ago where public hearings are advertised for both the commission and board of supervisors without a recommendation having first come from the commission.

The issue under the current process is time. Figure, for example, if the commission held a public hearing on a matter at their meeting scheduled next week, it would be April 10 before supervisors (barring a special meeting or recessed meeting action) could meet and authorize a public hearing on it, a hearing possibly stretching into May.

In most instances (because there are a few exceptions where, for example, two advertisements are required for rezoning) it could be worked in within the three-week timeframe.

“…If it was something highly controversial and the board wanted to wait then that would be…a board's prerogative. You don't have to take action immediately thereafter on the public hearing. You can delay that,” Bartlett said.

Supervisor Jim Wilck assessed that it does “seem onerous to penalize a person trying to do something…” He also would later add that in today's economy “we need to help in every way we can.”

Whether the County will move to that process, however, is still uncertain. County Attorney James R. Ennis offered that he would like to check the Code on the planning commission on the authority to proceed in that fashion.

Prospect Supervisor Howard “Pete” Campbell favored the attorney research it and make sure they are doing it correctly, whatever they do.

“'Cause I look at it from the standpoint, we've got an appointed committee with the exception of one telling elected supervisors what to do,” he said.

Others, however, disagreed with that assessment.

“If something comes in front of the planning commission, it's gonna come to the board no matter what,” commented Lockett District Supervisor Robert “Bobby” Jones.