New Planner Declines Pay

Published 3:24 pm Thursday, June 19, 2014

CUMBERLAND — Three Cumberland Planning Commission seats were open for appointment this year and one will have a new face this August. Stephen Donahue will now be the commissioner for District Two. And, he has started his tenure by declining pay.

According to Planning Director Sara Carter, all three planning directors applied to be reappointed to their seats. District Three and District Five commissioners Dr. Bill Burger and Roland Gilliam were unanimously reappointed after being nominated by their district supervisors. Burger has served since 2001 and Gilliam since 2004.

Chairman Lloyd Banks nominated Donahue as the District Two commissioner during the meetings on June 10. “He’s a small business owner in the county. [He’s] been here for some time and indicated a desire to serve,” Banks stated.

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“Is your current member not reapplying?” asked District Five Supervisor Parker Wheeler.

“Yes, the current member did reapply,” Banks said.

With no further discussion, the board voted in favor of Donahue, with only Wheeler opposed.

Donahue is a pastor, owns and operates See Through Window Cleaning and has a small farm. During a phone interview with The Herald earlier this week, he said he had been approached by Banks and initially turned him down. But, then his son said something that changed his mind: “You know, dad, if you don’t get involved, you can’t complain.”

Donahue describes himself as a libertarian. He feels like the Cumberland Planning Commission already does a pretty good job, he said, adding, “I’m hoping to provide some real definite protections of property rights.”

Donahue also told The Herald that he is declining the stipend commissioners receive on conscientious grounds. Commissioners receive $40 for each regular meeting and $20 for each workshop they attend. (The chairperson receives $50 and $25 for those meetings, respectively.)

The newly-appointed Donahue believes that taxes are a force and that if he received the stipend, he would be forcing taxpayers to pay for something they may not want. “I couldn’t, in good conscious, take any pay for it,” he concluded.

The Herald also spoke to former District Two Commissioner Patty Pedrick this week. Pedrick was appointed as a commissioner in 2010 to finish out the term of the previous District Two representative, Ted Overby. She then served a full term from 2011 to 2014.

Although she said she would be willing to serve as a commissioner for another term, she told The Herald, she was not crushed by the appointment of someone else.

“It was an enjoyable experience,” she said. She plans to continue keeping busy serving the County.

The planning commission consists of seven members appointed by the board: one from each of the County’s five voting districts and two at-large seats. The commission provides recommendations to the board of supervisors regarding land use, addressing issues such as zoning, the Comprehensive Plan and Capital Improvement Program.

Planning commission meetings are open to the public and occur the third Monday of every month. A schedule of upcoming meetings, agendas and minutes from past meetings can be viewed online at the County’s website:

Social Services Board

The board voted unanimously to re-appoint Nell Spain as the District Two representative on the Social Services Board. The current representatives for Districts Three and Five were not eligible for reappointment due to the length requirements established by that board’s bylaws, County Attorney and Administrator Vivian Giles explained prior to the vote.

In their place, the board appointed Alice Metts to the District Three seat and Cynthia Potts Gable to the District Five seat.

The Social Services Board provides oversight for the Social Services department in the County.