Hearing on commission is Wednesday

Published 1:09 pm Thursday, September 8, 2016

A public hearing is set for Wednesday to hear and gather comments about increasing ward representation on the Farmville Planning Commission. The unanimous action to hold the 6:45 p.m. hearing to amend the town code governing the commission’s membership came during council’s August meeting.

J.J. "Jamie" Davis

J.J. “Jamie” Davis

Currently, the commission’s members only represent Wards A and B, according to town officials. Agreed-to changes include removing Town Manager Gerald Spates and At-large Councilman Dan Dwyer from the commission.

The hearing will focus on ensuring representation from each of the five wards and having no fewer than five and no more than 15 members. The ordinance change also includes the possibility of appointed ex-officio, or non-voting members, to the commission.

Email newsletter signup

In August, council also agreed to a proposal to amend the term dates for the current members, staggering them to expire between 2017 and 2018. The current members of the commission would fulfill the terms, said Ward E Councilman J.J. “Jamie” Davis, who offered the recommendations.

According to Davis, Commission Chairman Sherry Honeycutt and commissioners L.D. Phaup and Dr. John Miller’s terms would expire in 2018, while commissioners Abby O’Connor and Dr. Chuck Ross’ terms would expire in 2017.

David Whitus

David Whitus

If no qualified representative can be found or is willing to serve from a ward, the council could appoint from another ward, Davis explained.

The council also adopted policies for the training of commission members and for applications to the commission be reviewed by the council’s personnel committee.

“I think that’s absolutely a strong step in the right direction,” Mayor David Whitus said following the council’s series of votes on the matter.

Several weeks ago, council unanimously amended the town code to mirror state code, where one council member and administrative official “may” serve instead of “shall” serve on the commission.

During a prior meeting, Spates said commissioners should be appointed by wards.

“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.”

Gerald Spates

Gerald Spates