Planning Commission attendance lagging

Published 7:11 pm Tuesday, August 14, 2018

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

The Isle of Wight County Planning Commission is down two members, and among some others, attendance has become an issue.

The Windsor District recently experienced the retirement of its two long-standing commissioners, James O’Briant and William Saunders.

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Missing or absent members increases the chance the commission won’t have a quorum and, when that happens, applications get delayed, which can cost the county and the applicant more money, said Isle of Wight County Director of Planning and Zoning Amy Ring.

“It can also cause us to potentially miss important insights from different areas of the county,” said Ring. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

The Planning Commission is an advisory board concerned with land use and development and how it relates to the county’s comprehensive plan. Isle of Wight’s Commission has 10 members — two from each voting district — when all appointments are filled. 

The Board of Supervisors appoints the members to the Commission, who serve four-year terms. 

However, commissioners who miss three consecutive meetings or are absent from any four meetings within a 12-month period may be removed, according to the Code of Virginia. 

At least one commissioner has missed four meetings within the past 12 months. 

Newport District Supervisor William McCarty said the Board is aware of the absenteeism, and commissioners are being asked about their desire to continue serving on the Planning Commission. The Board is concerned with how service may conflict with family or work demands or if there are personal issues hampering attendance, he said. 

“As we move forward, we are also going to be looking into ways that we can recruit better across all boards, task forces and commissions within the county,” said McCarty. 

Windsor District Supervisor Joel Acree said he may have at least one person ready to fill one of the open positions, but finding willing people to make that level of commitment has been difficult. 

At the same time, Acree believes it is important to appoint people with children in the schools and who work typical jobs because they represent the majority of the county’s population. 

Acree wondered if it might be possible for the county to take applications for those wanting to serve on boards and commissions, as a way to bank a pool of willing residents. 

The town of Smithfield has done that, and the Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce also offers a leadership class, where graduates are often considered for various boards and commissions.  

“We need to make sure we get people who represent us well,” said Acree. {/mprestriction}