The Pottawatomie County Commission has recommended a member of the Planning Commission resign or be forcibly removed from the board due to attendance issues.
“It’s time for him to either retire or leave or be removed and it’s not a negotiation,” said Commissioner Greg Riat at Monday’s meeting.
The commission didn’t specify by name which of the planning commission members should be removed from the board, but meeting minutes online show that District 2 planning commissioner Jared Cox hasn’t attended a Planning Commission meeting since July.
County Commission Chair Pat Weixelman says it’s something that’s handicapped the 10-member Planning Commission, which has nine voting members.
“It’s put the planning commission I think in a peculiar spot, because they didn’t have everybody there to make a vote and a lot of the votes have been passed 6 to 2,” he said.
Commissioners agreed to have County Counselor John Watt draft a letter to the individual to allow them the opportunity to resign or be removed.
Another issue raised Monday was the future of solar farm regulations.
At a Nov. 17 meeting, the county’s Planning Commission recommended no changes to the comprehensive plan and to enact a permanent moratorium on solar farms, replacing a temporary moratorium currently in place through the end of the year. The board of county commissioners have some options, including accepting those recommendations, or to send the issue back to begin drafting regulations.
“If this board’s desire is to have a set of regulations, then because the planning commission recommended no changes, very explicitly, my suggestion would be to send it back to planning commission and have them do that work,” said County Planner Stephan Metzger.
County Counselor John Watt informed commissioners if they wanted to go through a similar process to that of the rock quarries, which included several public hearings, the temporary moratorium would need to be extended.
Commissioner Dee McKee said Monday she fears for the taxpayers if the county doesn’t look at that future source of energy.
“As leaders, I want to be in the same position as the people were when the put Jeffrey in there. You’ve got to be part of the playing group to keep the tax base in place. We have some people who would not appreciate those people saying no and increasing their taxes 40 percent when that power reduction and valuation goes down,” she said.
Commissioner Riat suggested the county could wait until after expansion of the board of county commissioners occurs next year.
“I’d be in favor of supporting the planning commission’s recommendation of status quo and having no solar farms at this time until we have our five county commissioners and we can look at this thing again,” he said.
Commission Chair Pat Weixelman made clear he intends to make decisions regardless of when that expansion occurs.
“We’re going to continue business as is and make a decision. I’ve made decisions for 14 years up here and I don’t need to wait for two other people to come to continue that practice that I’ve done,” he said.
Commissioners ultimately agreed to continue the discussion at a future meeting.