By Sue Curry Jones
Opposing views and opinions on qualification standards for serving on the planning and zoning commission were the focus of the Ava Board of Aldermen, during the Tuesday, July 26 meeting. The recent quandary arose from a letter Mayor David Norman gave to commissioners on July 19, notifying them of upcoming plans to revise the city code, and stipulate members of the commission must be a resident of the City of Ava.
The residency requirement impacts several individuals currently serving on the board; consequently, four commissioners from planning and zoning were present on Tuesday to impart a counter viewpoint. Those attending were Jack Hamer, Andy Daniel, Jamie Dry, and Josh Wilber, who chairs the commission.
The two ordinances presented to council imparted specific changes to the planning and zoning commission rules.
The first ordinance No. 1002 cited “all members must be a citizen of the City of Ava and have resided for at least one year.”
The second revision, No. 1003, cited members must attend nine regularly scheduled meetings per year or the office will be deemed vacated and the position filled by appointment of the mayor. No. 1003 also included a conflict of interest clause which calls for commissioners to abstain from participating in city matters that overlap into private or personal business matters. The conflict of interest clause banned ex parte contracts and commissioners acting solely for personal gain.
Prior to a final vote on the changes, Josh Wilber spoke to Mayor Norman, and councilmen Stan Lovan, Leon Harris, Burrely Loftin and Keith Jones, expressing several counter points and concerns. In a thoughtful and well-spoken manner, Wilber noted he agreed with the ordinance requiring commissioners to exhibit ethical practices and duly recognize conflicts of interest.
However, Wilber commented he did not agree with the Mayor and his process for notifying members of the commission about the termination of three members under ordinance No. 1002, living outside city limits, and the release of another member, under ordinance No. 1003. Wilber stated the Mayor’s actions did not follow the proper procedure for removal of any member from the planning and zoning commission.
In his statement, Wilber noted, “It is my opinion that the proper procedures for removal were in fact not followed and that four volunteer board members have been wrongfully terminated. I understand that the board of alderman will vote tonight on both ordinances. I ask you to consider both laws in their entirety and how they affect the good of the people within the city of Ava.”
Jack Hamer, who has served as a commissioner for 10 years, stated “we have had many out of city commissioners, please don’t fix what is not broken.” Hamer also noted Ava is a small town, and in years past, finding individuals who are willing to serve has been difficult.
Norman answered by stating that planning and zoning commissioners should live in the city, and “this action is not about the performance of the present commission.”
However, after a brief discussion with Andy Daniel, it was noted Daniel was entitled to a hearing on the issue, if Daniel wanted to take that course of action. In response, Daniel resigned his position on the board, saying “Obviously, we have conflicts here – I will tender my resignation.”
Both ordinances were adopted in two unanimous votes, as there were two readings on each ordinance.
Planning and zoning operates as a board of seven commissioners. The four commissioners forced to step down under the new city codes are Jeff Davis, Andy Daniel, Jamie Dry and Josh Wilber. Members that will continue to serve on the board are Jack Hamer, Scott Stark, and Lane Lakey. According to Norman, four new members will be appointed during the next council meeting, on Tuesday, August 9.
Two additional ordinances were also passed by councilmen.
Ordinance No. 1000 cites “it is in the public interest to impose regula-tions on the number of cats / dogs that may reside in a single household in residential or business districts. No person living in an area of the city zoned as residential shall own no more than three (3) cats and / or three (3) dogs. Pet owners who currently exceed this number of allowed cats or dogs will be allowed to maintain their current number of pets until the ownership ceases. Litters shall be only for licensed kennels that are considered conditional use in agricultural districts…”
Ordinance No. 1001 amended city code to impose rabies vaccination regulations upon dog and cat owners residing in the City of Ava. The new stipulation requires dog and cat owners to be able to provide a current certificate of vaccination for dogs and/or cats, and the certificate must be from a licensed veterinarian.
Both regulations were approved by council in two readings, and with unanimous votes.
In the closed session report, City Clerk Suzanne Welsh advised the councilmen discussed a personnel issue, but no voting action took place.
The fuel system at the airport is working, but the City is still waiting for the Missouri Department of Agriculture, Weights, Measures and Consumer Protection Division, to inspect the unit and administer a final stamp of approval. Nonetheless, fuel is being sold at the airport, and according to City Clerk Suzanne Welsh, gas sales from July 1 through July 25 totaled $1,233.62.
Mayor Norman reported 10-15 weed violations were issued this past week, and with recent rain showers, yards have been difficult to maintain and mow. Norman also advised the City is waiting for an additional bid on the retaining wall on the south side of city hall, and to-date, two bids have been submitted for upgrading the landscaping.
Video of Josh Wilber’s address to council, and footage of the entire council meeting, may be found on the Douglas County Herald website.
City council will reconvene on Tuesday, August 9, at 5:00 p.m.