Plain City Design Review Board is the latest group of village officials to see a mix-up.
Two new members were appointed to the board during Monday’s council meeting following an earlier pair of resignations.
Nate Byrum will fill Ron Winn’s former position, which is designated for a real estate agent.
The position designated for a historical society member, formerly held by Annabelle Tuller, will be filled by James Cron.
DRB members are appointed by the mayor and approved by council.
However, not every council member liked Mayor Jody Carney’s picks.
Council member Frank Reed asked Carney if she received written applications from Byrum and Cron.
She said she talked with the two on multiple occasions, but did not direct them to complete an application. Carney said there have been vacancies on the board for several months and felt they needed to be filled so DRB applications are not stalled any longer.
Village Solicitor Paul Lafayette noted that a recent application, a sign for Pioneer Pizza, was approved on a technicality caused by the empty seats.
He said there was not a quorum at the meeting. Since there was not sufficient time to distribute a notice for a later meeting and have a public hearing, the application “was approved by operation of the DRB ordinance.”
Regardless, Reed encouraged council to postpone approving Carney’s appointments until the candidates submitted applications.
“Right now, we only have your experience and your testimony with these two nominees,” Reed told Carney.
He also noted that he believed Carney received an application from another candidate, Eric Medici.
Carney confirmed she did.
Medici previously served as a DRB member and chairman.
“It’s confusing why he didn’t make the cut,” Reed said.
He said Bernie Vance submitted a letter of recommendation for Medici on behalf of the Plain City Historical Society. He also emphasized that Medici was the only candidate to submit a written application.
Reed argued that a written application was a prerequisite to be appointed to the board, but others disagreed.
Lafayette said “there’s certainly no ordinance or resolution” that requires an application and he was not aware of council ever moving to require it.
The DRB ordinances require that members “have experience in, knowledge of or interest in” historic preservation, Lafayette said. Additionally, five members must be village residents and two can be owners of village businesses.
Byrum and Cron are residents while Medici owns a business in Plain City.
Despite no formal requirement to submit a written application, Reed asked Carney to withdraw her nominations because he felt they were violating village code.
“You should honor the ordinances and say you withdraw your nominations because that’s your job – to honor the ordinances of the village,” Reed said.
She refused to do so, noting that her nominations met the requirements in place. Carney said she felt each candidate “appreciates what the Uptown Historic District represents” and will bring a “fresh” perspective.
Reed again disagreed.
“We’re rejecting arguably the most qualified person to be on the board… in favor of people who – I’m going to say this and I don’t know that it’s true – maybe haven’t read the ordinances yet for the historic district,” he said, adding Carney’s candidates may not “know what the job’s about.”
Other council members did not express the same concerns as Reed.
Council voted 5-1 to appoint Byrum, with Reed dissenting, and 4-2 to appoint Cron, with Reed and Council member Michael Terry voting against the measure.
“These people are deciding on the future of the historic district,” Reed said.
In other business:
– Council unanimously waived the third reading and approved a final development plan for the Oak Grove Residential Development.
– Council President John Rucker canceled the Dec. 28 meeting, unless “something emergent” occurs that requires a second meeting next month.
– Village Administrator Nathan Cahall said staff is transitioning their operations to abide by new health advisories from Madison County Public Health.
He said some staff is working remotely two to three days a week, while those in the office are separating physically.
Cahall said the public works department is using a “buddy system” and keeping the same two or three employees together for all assignments. The teams will not share vehicles, which are disinfected every day.
He encouraged residents to make any transactions online, through the payment portal or by emailing staff, or using the dropbox outside the municipal offices.
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