MONTICELLO — A proposal to combine duties of Monticello's Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning Commissions into one committee was met with a mixed reaction at the Monticello City Council meeting Monday.
Mayor Chris Corrie said the idea has been "talked about for several years now," most notably because it has been difficult to keep a full contingent of members on the separate, seven-member boards.
"Also there have been times in the past where these boards have had difficulty in establishing a quorum, whether it's someone retired who is out of town for a period of time, or whether it's someone with other commitments." A majority of a quorum is needed for a city board to conduct business.
According to the city website, the planning commission advises the city council in regards to changes to local zoning and subdivision ordinances, as well as preliminary plats and land annexations.
The zoning board advises the council on requested zoning variances, and is also serves as the appeals board for those not pleased with council zoning decisions.
Alderman Tim Hayes admitted there was overlap between the two boards, but that "opinions on appointed bodies are important, and if you have just the same group I'm afraid you might not be reflecting enough of the differentiation you'd like to see."
However, he added he likes the idea of less government.
John Miller agreed, commenting "smaller is better" when it comes to the number of governmental entities.
Vince Kuetemeyer wondered if it would affect the appeals process, but City Superintendent Floyd Allsop said any appeals of council zoning decisions would still come before the combined board.
Allsop felt one group would be more stable, enabling city staff to use them as a sounding board.
"We'd like to find those truly interested in serving, step up training, and have them help give recommendations to the council" regarding planning issues, said Allsop. "We'd like to bounce ideas off them, but that's difficult to do with 14 people."
Planning Commisssion Chairman Michael Doerr was present at the council session, and felt there were "a lot of good comments" made on the issue.
"It (the planning commission) is underutilized and could be doing more," said Doerr, but added he had no firm opinion yet on combining it with the zoning board. "I'm going to go back and digest the information."
If approved, all duties of the two boards would be under the purview of a revamped Zoning Board of Appeals. There is no proposal yet as to how large that board would be. The issue was for discussion only at the council meeting.
The two groups currently meet only as needed. Hayes said if they remain as is, the possibility of regularly scheduled sessions may be a way to boost attendance.
In a related matter, Corrie appointed and the council approved the appointment of Ryan Uebinger to the Zoning Board of Appeals. That term expires in May of 2015.