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Planning commission could change

The Farmville Town Council is considering changes to the makeup of the town’s planning commission, seeking to make it more representative of the town.

The commission’s members only represent Wards A and B, according to town officials.

During the council’s Wednesday work session last week, Town Manager Gerald Spates, reviewing the council’s Wednesday meeting agenda, noted a request to change the town code to mirror the state code, where one council member and administrative official “may” serve instead of “shall” serve on the commission — a change unanimously adopted by the council on Wednesday evening.

David Whitus

David Whitus

“The way our ordinance is written is perfectly legal,” Spates said. “It says that one member from town council ‘shall’ be on the planning commission and one administrative person ‘shall’ be on the planning commission. The (state) code says ‘may,’ so, I would like to ask council that we consider changing the way the planning commission members (are appointed). I don’t need to be on the planning commission, and I don’t think a member of council (should be on the commission).”

According to Mayor David Whitus, four of the seven members of the commission live in one ward, while the remaining three members live in another, leaving a majority without representation.

“The planning commission should be appointed by wards,” Spates said. “There ought to be a representative from each ward and two represented from at large.”

Current members of the commission include Abigail O’Connor, John Miller, L.D. Phaup, Spates, At-Large Councilman Dan Dwyer, Sherry Honeycutt, who serves as chairman, and Charles Ross.

Their six-year terms are staggered, except for Spates, whose runs concurrent with this contract as town manager.

“There was a lot of discussion about Mr. Spates being able to vote,” Whitus said, “…so we took a look at the planning commission, the makeup of the planning commission, how representative the planning commission is of the town. And, oddly enough, exclusive of Mr. Spates, six planning commissioners, three live in Ward A and three live in Ward B. Wards C, D and E have no representation on the planning commission at all.”

Dwyer said that in the past, the commission has found it difficult to recruit members.

“We’d almost have to be more aggressive and say, ‘Let’s see if we can go out and find someone,’” he said.

“I think it would be good to have representation from other areas if we can find them,” Ward B Councilwoman Sally Thompson said.