Entire City Council may sit on Motley’s Planning and Zoning Board

By Tina Snell, Staff Writer

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Tuesday, the Motley City Coucnil discussed whether or not it could change the makeup of the Planning and Zoning Commission without a public hearing. Recently, it replaced two commissioners temporarily with two council members without a public hearing, which may not be within regulations.

The Planning and Zoning Commission was created by an ordinance, along with the number of commissioners to sit on its board. An ordinance needs a public hearing to be changed.

The Council is discussing changing the makeup of the Commission to include the five council  members, two residents and one alternate. Currently, it would only need to replace one person.

The Motley Planning and Zoning Commission is a recommendation board only, bringing ideas to the Council. The Council then votes on those recommendations.

Recently, the Commission has brought forth recommendations that have not coincided with the comprehensive plan written by the Healthy Communities Collaborative and Motley residents. The olan’s contents spell out how residents want to see the city thrive.

“The current Planning and Zoning Board was not around when the comprehensive plan was written,” said Clerk/Treasurer Terri Smith. “When there is a conflict with the plan, the City Council will not vote with the Commission.”

Because of various conflicts, it has been difficult to keep people on the Commission. They don’t feel as if the Council is listening to them and the Council feels they are not following the plan.

Council Member Duane Solga said his biggest concern was having a quorum on the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Bruce Mills was concerned with commissioners destroying the comprehensive plan.

“There are people (on the Commission) who have agendas,” said Council Member Rob Sampson. “But, the five people on the Council have the final say. One person on the Commission has to get eight other people (five council members and three commissioners) to agree with them.”

Section 20, subsection D, line three of Motley’s Planning Commission Policy states that when appointing members to the Commission, the Council may look into the person’s desire  to assist in the implementation of the city’s land use policies which includes the comprehensive plan.

The Council agreed that when appointing a new commissioner, it must spell out what the comprehensive plan for Motley is, so each person knows how to proceed.

“The Council would like to see like-minded people on the Commission,” said Smith.

Because of the difficulty with keeping commissioners on the board, the Council added two council members to replace those that left. Since the Commission, comprised of five residents, was established with an ordinance, it needs a public hearing to change. The Council did not do that.

It now wishes to dissolve the Planning and Zoning Commission and remake it. But, before it does that, the Council will speak with city attorney Peter Vogel on how to proceed.

Motley City Council briefs

Other business conducted by the Motley City Council Tuesday night included:

• Agreeing to allow the Two Rivers Music Festival to be held Friday – Sunday, July 27-29, at the Motley Fairgrounds; to move the parade route to the west side of Highway 10 down Third Avenue from the Lutheran Church to the Post Office; and have a beer garden as long as it’s in compliance with city ordinances;

• Voting to allow the Park Committee to move the city’s sign on the north side of the bridge over the Crow Wing River to the Cattleman’s Association yards, add signs pointing to dog walking areas for people passing through town, reinstall fencing on the west side of the ball park and install signs pointing to the city park and ball field;

• Scheduling a meeting for Thursday at 6 p.m. with Widseth Smith Nolting Engineer Aric Welch to walk through the city’s Industrial Park to determine the best location for a storm sewer;

• Receiving a punch list of items from the 2011 street project which Kuechle Underground Inc. needs to finish before receiving the final payment. The 51 items are on Eledredge, Cedar and Birch streets and First Pine and Fourth avenues;

• Cancelling its agreement with Community Growth Institute (CGI) and opting to sign with Ben Oleson, a previous owner of CGI, and his new company, Hometown Planning;

• Scheduling a meeting with the Planning and Zoning Commission for 6:30 p.m., May 2, to discuss the city’s areas which have no defined purpose;

• Voting to reinstate Bryan Hutchison to the Motley Fire Department;

• Allowing Birten Herman to begin a one-year leave of absence from the Motley Fire Department;

• Accepting Dave Christianson as an intern police officer for the summer;

• Accepting Fire Chief Dave Grieg’s recommendation to terminate Justin Stevens from the Motley Fire Department for lack of participation;

• Agreeing to dispose of 15 radios and 13 pagers from the fire department plus two police radios at the citywide cleanup. Each will be obsolete after 2013;

• Allowing Grieg to apply for a 50/50 grant from the Department of Natural Resources for two sets of turn-out gear, depending on money in the budget;

• Allowing alternates from each civic group in Motley to attend every Park Committee meeting, even though they cannot vote if the regular appointee is present;

• Voting to spend $930 to fix the ball joints and tension control on the Motley squad car;

• Voting to add Police Chief Brian Madison to the Park Committee; and

• Hearing from resident Jo Philips that the city’s dog ordinance was not being enforced and that Council Member Rob Sampson’s dogs were some of the problem.