(2/04) People appointed to the town’s
planning and zoning commission or its board of appeals have
been similar to Supreme Court justices for years. "Once you’re
on there, you’re on it ‘til you die," Burgess Donald Trimmer
said, only half-jokingly.
Most communities appoint planning
commission or appeals board members for specific terms, and
they often re-appoint the person as that term is about to
expire. But in Woodsboro, terms have been forgotten for years,
and the citizens who volunteer have served the town until
they’ve resigned or died. Woodsboro’s board of commissioners
have decided that practice has to change. A letter was sent to
the citizen appointees, four with planning and zoning and
three with the board of appeals, to learn if they want to
continue to serve the town. The commissioners plan to
establish terms for everyone at their February meeting. What
actions are required will be discussed at a town workshop
"That’s the way we’ve been operating,
which is not kosher," the burgess said. "They should be
re-appointed for another three- or five-year term whenever
their term comes up. We’re going to try to establish terms for
Hartwood Cornell has been on the
planning panel so long he doesn’t know when he started. He
guessed it was 1981, and the only interruption was two years
in the mid-80s when he served as the town’s burgess.
The planning commission has been
fairly stable. The institutional knowledge gathered by
longtime members is valuable, Mr. Cornell said, and each
member tends to focus on different things when matters are
brought to the commission.
"Everybody seems to be looking at
something a little different from each other, which really
adds to what we’re after in the end. What one person doesn’t
realize, the next one often does," he said.
Because Woodsboro is a small town,
agendas don’t tend to be packed and meetings usually aren’t
high-pressure. The board of appeals meets irregularly and may
go a year without meeting, Mr. Trimmer said. The planning
commission meets on a monthly schedule, but Mr. Cornell
recalled years when it might have met only six times.
Mr. Trimmer and Mr. Cornell disagreed
somewhat on how much pressure for growth the town will feel
over the next five to 10 years.
A number of very small subdivision
requests and an annexation proposal will occupy the town in
the next five years, the burgess predicted.
Mr. Cornell, the planning commission’s
chairman, said the town’s location and its residents’
opposition to aggressive expansion likely will inhibit growth.
"I don’t envision us being too much
larger than we are now, I really don’t," Mr. Cornell said.
"But you never can tell."
If growth comes, who will deal with
it? Apparently the same people who are coping with this
The deadline for people to notify the
town they wanted off one of the panels was Friday. A short
time before the town office closed Friday, no resignations had
Mr. Trimmer viewed the lack of
resignations as positive for Woodsboro. "I think we’re very
fortunate to have the people to serve on the two boards that
we have," the burgess said. "They’re all knowledgeable of
planning and zoning rules and regulations, they all work
together, and I don’t know what more you could ask for."
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