in the Parks & Rec. meeting room, members of the Planning and Community Development Commission (PCDC) were expressing their displeasure at the way their position and recommendations for the Commercial Eastern Corridor (CEC) zone were represented, or in this case, misrepresented to the BOT last week during the first reading of the proposed ordinance.
The problem it seems was twofold. The members of the PCDC felt that Town Planner Danna Ortiz didn’t agree with their recommendations, and therefore didn’t “articulate” their position to the Trustees, and they didn’t feel that PCDC Chair Marty Hine had backed the recommendations to the fullest, considering the PCDC was unanimous in their recommendations. Commissioner Roger Flynn (an environmental lawyer by trade) equated it to “preparing to present arguments to a judge, and then having the other side’s council stand up and inform the court that he would be presenting the argument!” Hine defended himself by insisting that “first reading was not the time to offer input,” that would come at second reading.
At issue is language, crafted by Flynn, in the ordinance that would limit (but not ban) the possibility of “formula businesses” (read franchise) from locating in the CEC zone through a “conditional use” process. By including phrases like “protect and preserve unique small town character, and quality of life,” which were labeled as redundant and unnecessary by Ortiz and Hine at first reading, the PCDC felt the BOT would be able to look at individual proposals on a case-by-case basis. The Commissioners also wanted it made clear to the BOT that they don’t feel “stand alone design standards” were a strong enough option for the Town.
Noses were also out of joint due to the tone of emails that Chairman Hine sent to PCDC members instructing them not to contact Staff or Trustees individually, but rather have all communication go through him. Commissioner Jeff Cornell, who took particular exception to the tone, read the emails verbatim, and Commissioner Michelle Allen agreed, saying that the emails were “too directive.” Hine said he was directed by Mayor Julie Van Domelen and Administrator Victoria Simonsen to write the letters, and added that he had misspoke. He said the Commissioners were free to speak to anyone in town, but to please refrain from giving individual directives to staff, which would use up valuable time and resources. This didn’t placate anyone, because in a “straw poll” among themselves, none of the Commissioners could remember having done so in the first place.
The PCDC members, although not excited about presenting “dual” and contrasting reports to the BOT, wanted Hine to express their desire to the Mayor, to have “equal time, not just three minutes” to “articulate the nuances of their recommendations” at the second reading and public hearing for the ordinance at the June 6 BOT meeting. It was also suggested that someone other than the Chair should make the presentation to the BOT.