By Linda Dillman
Filling two appointments on Canal Winchester’s seven-member Planning and Zoning Commission will take a little longer after Canal Winchester City Council shot down Mayor Mike Ebert’s pair of recommendations.
Council voted 4-3 to block the appointments with council members Jill Amos, Laurie Amick, Ashley Ward, and Patrick Shea rejecting and Mike Walker, Bob Clark, and Chuck Milliken voting for approval.
Resolutions approving the appointments of Mark Caulk and Chuck Carpenter were first presented on Jan. 3, but held for more information after a lengthy discussion by council.
The same resolutions appeared on council’s Jan. 18 agenda and after another round of discussion, did not pass when put to a vote.
Council members previously questioned Carpenter’s qualifications, wanted to see Caulk’s application, asked why a long-standing commission member Mike Vasko was not re-appointed, and the status of other applicants.
“I went to the mayor and asked what can I do to help?” said Carpenter during the Jan. 18 meeting. “The mayor asked if I’d like to help on this commission. I run into a roadblock and I don’t know why.”
Amos said council asked that other commission applicants be contacted regarding the appointments. She said she reached out to some of them and was told no one approached them following the Jan. 3 meeting.
“We are in a crisis situation. I need to have faith in them when we make a decision,” said Amos, who felt more qualified candidates, including Vasko, were overlooked. “Our asks at the last meeting were very specific and those were not answered.”
She said her personal review of the list of applicants was done by redacting names so she could eliminate outside influences.
According to the city charter, commission members are appointed by the mayor, but confirmed by the council. They serve for overlapping four year terms of office.
The commission is charged with hearing appeals from administrative officers and employees with respect to zoning, platting, subdivision, building and other regulations pertaining to land uses.
Ebert responded to Amos’ statements by saying that he followed all of the rules as set in the charter— including the only qualification that you must be a resident of the municipality to serve on a city commission.
There is no requirement to have experience within a commission’s area of concern.
“You had the opportunity to change that in the charter last year,” said Ebert. “He’s (Carpenter) the only one of all the applicants that came in and talked with Luke (Haire) and Andrew (Moore).”
Clark, who voted for the resolutions, said there are plenty of commission members who did not have previous experience in areas of planning or zoning before joining the commission, but are now doing a good job.
“The mayor has the prerogative to do what he wants,” said Clark, who felt they were “putting the community in peril” by not filling the appointments.
Walker echoed Clark’s comments by saying it is Ebert’s decision to make and he has done so. He felt Ebert is “perfectly capable of picking someone for planning and zoning.”