Council approves reappointments to local boards — just barely

At Monday night’s city council meeting, the council narrowly approved reappointments to three local boards.

The item was pulled from the consent agenda for discussion at the request of Al Hoop, fourth-ward council member. Although the resolution passed, council members Hoop, Bob Schubert, first ward, and Leon Lamer, at-large, all voted against it.

The consent agenda originally called for eight appointments to the board of adjustment, enterprise zone commission and planning and zoning commission.

The board of adjustment arbitrates contentions between the site plan review board and planning and zoning commission and citizens who believe those government bodies have interpreted the city’s laws improperly.

The council was set to reappoint David Schulze, who serves on both the site plan review board and the board of adjustment, prior to the item being pulled.

Hoop said Schulze serving on the two boards puts a citizen appealing a decision of the site plan review board at a disadvantage. Since the five-member board only needs four members to vote, and since Schulze would need to abstain because of his serving on the site plan review board, the citizen would need all three remaining votes to win the appeal.

“That doesn’t give the person making the appeal an honest chance to win the appeal,” Hoop said.

The mayor appointed Schulze to the board, and he said if the mayor decided his serving on the board of adjustment did not serve the community, he would not have appointed him.

Michelle Spohnheimer, Housing and Community Development director, told the council that in her 12 years working for the city, she has seen only one case from the site plan review board go before the board of adjustment.

Schulze said it is more often that he abstains because of a professional conflict.

However, Hoop said how often it happens is irrelevant. There should not be a potential for it to happen in the first place.

“If you are the person it happens to you don’t care what everybody else has done. You are getting your appeal knocked down,” he said.

All the members on the board of adjustment, site plan review board and enterprise zone commission are volunteers.

Schubert said he voted against the appointment because wants to ensure that the board members appointed are maintaining the recommended 75 percent attendance. Also, he said, he would like to see more flexibility to make changes in those positions.

He said he would like the council to have more authority to remove board members who are not living up to the job’s requirement instead of having to wait for their term to expire.

Documents obtained from the City Planner show that only one member on the three boards to which council appointed members Monday – Angela Lins-Eich – did not attend at least 75 percent of the meetings in 2012. Lins-Eich attended 66.7 percent of the planning and zoning commission meetings of which she is the chair. The council’s vote reappointed Lins-Eich to that board. Her term expires April 1, 2018.

Lamer was unavailable for comment at press time.