- Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 January 2009 19:45
- Published on Wednesday, 07 January 2009 19:45
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Members of the public who turned out for this Monday’s Westmoreland County Planning Commission meeting were surprised when someone advised them to read the notice on a nearby English Building door.
Nearly an hour had passed and there were no Planning Commissioners or county government land use staff. Citizens and newspaper employees who gathered in the English Building foyer did what they always do prior to local government meetings.
The conversations that ensued were pleasant enough, but when the sign on the door was brought to everyone’s attention there was some embarrassment. The computer-generated message had been posted in plain enough view for anyone to see.
“There were no cases scheduled for the January 5, 2009 Planning Commission meeting, therefore, no meeting was advertised and no meeting will be held in the General District courtroom January 5, 2009 at 1:30 p.m.,” was the message taped to that George D. English Building door.
The Journal’s reporter and one member of the public trekked down the building’s dark rear hall to question local government land use staff and learned that the message was posted at approximately 11 o’clock that morning.
“We had already notified the Planning Commissioners,” a land use employee told the reporter and the Westmoreland County resident. “We did what we were required to do.”
In the absence of a meeting there was no opportunity for the public to meet the jurisdiction’s new District 4 Planning Commissioner, Jimmy Coates. On December 1 longtime District 4 Commissioner Brick Thomas had said goodbye to his Commission colleagues and the county’s land use staff. The following Monday Westmoreland Supervisors appointed Coates to represent District 4 on the Commission.
Newspaper employees, private citizens and an associate from the Allison, Baird and Sehl civil engineering and land surveying firm may have shared the expectation that the session would include information about the number of Comprehensive Plan survey returns received by the Northern Neck Planning District Office during December.
When too few citizens completed and returned the three-page survey document, the Westmoreland Planning Commission directed the Planning District Office to extend the period for accepting the returns.
The 30-day extensions were authorized by the Commissioners in November and also in December, with the understanding that the returns would be tabulated by Planning District staff and made available to Planning Commissioners as soon as February.
According to the Planning Commission discussion that occurred on December 1, the Commission would hold an evening meeting in March, when survey results would be shared with members of the Westmoreland County public.
During the same March meeting Westmoreland’s Planning Commissioners would have an opportunity to contribute input of their own and public comment on the topic would also be received.
In the absence of a January Planning Commission meeting, selection of the new year’s Planning Commission officers will be delayed until February 2. During 2008 Rob McDermott served as Commission Chair and Richard Moncure held the position of Vice Chair.
Westmoreland County lost its Zoning Administrator, Gary Ziegler, to cancer during last year’s Thanksgiving holiday and the position has not been filled. If Ziegler had survived and if the Commission had met, that county government employee would have been charged with presiding over the meeting until the Commissioners would select a presiding officer for calendar 2009.
Zoning Administrator/Planning Director Ziegler left two Land Use Office assistants, Charlie Wrightson and Beth McDowell. The two land use employees currently share the duties of a Zoning Administrator and Director of Planning.