Garrard planning commission vote voided

July 15, 2004|EMILY BURTON

LANCASTER - A vote Monday to reorganize the planning commission by dropping two members from the same district has been found to be beyond the jurisdiction of the Garrard Fiscal Court, said County Attorney Jeff Moss Wednesday. The vote has since been rendered void, but the court could still try to reorganize the commission through other means if so desired.

"After reviewing the statute, it does not appear that the court has the authority to remove a (commission) member," without reason, said Moss.

The statute in question, KRS 100.157, gives specific reasons for which a commissioner can be dismissed: inefficiency, neglect of duty, malfeasance or conflict of interest.

None of those reasons were cited before the vote to remove planning commissioners Roger Miller and Ronnie Lamb. Both men have since been informed that they still sit on the commission, said chairman Dick Brunson.


"I will recommend (the magistrates) review that motion, or withdraw and devise another way to reorganize," said Moss, hopefully before the next planning commission meeting July 20. Without a clear decision either way by the fiscal court, there could be a question of who needs to be at that meeting, said Moss.

The magistrates voted to remove Miller and Lamb after a citizen complained of unequal representation of the five magisterial districts. Four of the eight commission members were from a single district, said citizen Becky Pschorr. Pschorr had pushed for the reorganization during Monday's Fiscal Court meeting after magistrates refused to make a motion disbanding the commission outright.

At that point, Pschorr asked for the commission to be equalized, with two members from each district and two members from the four representing Magistrate Larry Teater's district being removed. Teater had to name which two could be removed before the motion could be made, said Moss. After an initial refusal to single out two members, Teater named Lamb and Miller.

According to Brunson, "they were both upset, and they asked if they could speak to the local press ... I'd be upset, too. There's no just cause, and there's no due process, and that's kind of what we're about here."

Moss added, "If I were them, I'd be upset in the way it was handled."

Teater said he had chosen Miller and Lamb out of the process of elimination. Of the remaining two members, Brunson was the chairman and John Dixon worked extensively with the county on grants.

Commissioner Miller, assistant vice president of Whitaker Bank, said he was upset with the decision.

"Obviously I was a little confused at first, because I wasn't sure what the reasoning was behind myself being picked as one of the people to be removed ... It kind of left a sour taste in my mouth to be sure."

When the list of potential commissioners was first presented to the magistrates in October, Teater said he immediately had concern that four of the commission members would come from his district.

"I thought there should have been equal representation," said Teater. When later asked to pick the two commissioners to be removed, "I was very upset, because I was not the one that picked them. They were brought to us and we were told to vote on them by the judge-executive and Moss," said Teater.

Miller said he didn't believe "it was ever anybody's intention to be unbalanced. The way I was approached, it was difficult to get anybody to do it (serve)."

As far as his future service on the commission is concerned, Miller said "I don't know. I'm a little unsure of my status right now."

Statutes on planning commissions:

* The planning commission must be comprised of between 5-20 members. Garrard County currently has 8.

* At least 2/3 must be citizen members.

* The terms of the first appointed members are staggered at one, two, three and four years.

* If a commissioner is to be dismissed, the planning commission must submit a written statement outlining the reasons, which must then be read at the commission's next meeting and open to the public. The removed member may then appeal in Circuit Court.

* Reasons for dismissal are restricted to inefficiency, neglect of duty, malfeasance or a conflict of interest.

The Garrard planning commission's main purpose is to draft a comprehensive plan for the county to present to the Fiscal Court for approval. According to KRS 100.187, a comprehensive plan includes elements such as:

* Community facilities plans regarding future parks, schools, libraries, and hospitals.

* Transportation plans regarding future highways, streets, airways and railways.

* Land use plans regarding future industrial, residential and recreational lands.

Central Kentucky News Articles