Commissioners reject suggestion to appoint zoning hearing examiners
By SANDRA STONE
The Meade County Planning and Zoning Commission, during their Dec. 17 meeting, rejected the recommendation to appoint zoning hearing examiners, choosing, instead, to hear all cases as a full commission.
The bylaws allow the chairman to appoint one or more persons to conduct hearings independent of the commission and then report to the commission in open session. A vote on said issues would not be made directly on the heels of the hearing, as has been the commission’s practice until this point, except on rare occasions when they tabled an issue to gather more information. Planning and Zoning administrator Tony Coletta recommended this action in light of several emotionally charged issues the commission will likely be hearing in the near future.
“If I wanted to make my case,” said Mark Garverich, “I would rather make my case to the entire commission.”
“What if two examiners conduct hearings, and I have a question,” said Reece Wardrip, “can I ask that question?” Coletta replied Wardrip could ask only the hearing examiners. “I hate to give up my opportunity to ask a question,” said Wardrip.
“Personally, I don’t see the need for it,” said Allen Flaherty.
“At minimum,” said Coletta, “leave yourself the latitude to conduct the hearing separate from a decision making session.”
“I see a lot of value in hearing evidence, mulling it over and making a decision at a later session,” said Wardrip.
Sonja Redmon said hearing examiners are used in most other counties, including Hardin and Jefferson, and it works. But, she added, “We may not be at the level where we have the experience to appoint hearing examiners around here.”
The commission declined to appoint hearing examiners. They agreed, however, to conduct public hearings separate from decision making meetings of the commission when the issue is complex or has the potential to be emotionally charged.