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Second planning nominee rejected Mayor wants more diversity on board

Richard D. L. Fulton
Emmitsburg Dispatch

(10/9) The board of commissioners rejected another recommended planning commission member at their Oct. 2 meeting, even though virtually all members said they approved of the nominee's qualifications.

Not appointed as a planning commission alternate member was Tim O'Donnell, presently a member of the town parks and recreation committee. Commissioner Glenn Blanchard had nominated O'Donnell for the position.

The board balked at the approval after Mayor James E. Hoover expressed concerns over the lack of residency, race and gender diversity on the planning commission.

Acknowledging that O'Donnell would be an appropriate individual to serve on the planning commission because he (O'Donnell) "provides a certain experience," the mayor said, "I'm concerned about the lack of diversity in that group."

Suggesting that he would prefer to see someone on the board not affiliated with a development, the mayor noted, "We currently have members from Pembrook and Brookfield. To put another Pembrook resident (on the board) at this time concerns me." Pointing out that the seats on planning are for five-year terms, he said the board needs to "look long and hard" on appointments.

The planning commission is presently an all white, male board, including Pembrook resident Rich Kapriva, Brookfield resident Tom Cashour, and in-town resident Larry Little. Commissioner Blanchard serves as liaison to the planning commission for the board of commissioners.

Hoover had previously nominated Catherine Forrence for the planning commission, but the board failed to reject or appoint the local resident. The recommendation died for lack of a second for either position.

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