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January 3, 2006

Items include workshop on public hearings (Riggs), review of bylaws, prelim plat on seniors addition



January 3, 2006


The regular meeting of the City of Clearwater, Sedgwick County, Kansas, Planning Commission was held on Tuesday, January 3, 2006 at 7:00 p.m., in the Clearwater City Council Chamber, City Hall at 129 E. Ross Avenue, Clearwater, Kansas.


The following members were present: Lonnie Stieben, LaDonna Lawrenz, Aaron Tjaden, Don Berntsen, Mike Machart, and Les Langston.  George Rudy was absent.  The following City staff members were present: Kent Brown, City Administrator; Cheryl Wright, City Clerk; and Janet Amerine, City Attorney.  Also present at the meeting was John Riggs, Professional Planner of Riggs Associates.


1. Approval of Minutes of the Meeting of December 6, 2005

MOTION: The motion to approve the minutes was made by Lawrenz, seconded by Berntsen and passed unanimously.

2. John Riggs


John Riggs reviewed the “Planning Commission Workshop Series” titled “The Public Hearing.”  Riggs stated that the sole purpose of a public hearing is to permit the public to express its views in an orderly and constructive manner.  The Public Hearing is not a forum for debate or argument; it is to gather public opinion and comments.  The Planning Commission should come to the meeting prepared to listen to the public, answer questions, discuss the subject intelligently and make a decision.  The Planning Commission should give the public the feeling that they are unified.  LaDonna Lawrenz stated that for a zoning hearing the information is sent to each commissioner and they come to the meeting having not had the opportunity to discuss the subject with other commissioners.  Riggs stated that the Planning Commission could discuss their views after the public hearing is closed.  Riggs stated that any changes to the Comprehensive Plan or zoning require a public hearing.  Riggs continued to state that law requires a public hearing on certain things, but anytime the Planning Commission wants to get public opinion they can call for a public hearing.  The public hearing can be as formal or informal as the hearing officer chooses.  Riggs stated that the hearing officer can be anyone appointed by the Planning Commission including the Mayor, a member of the Planning Commission, or a citizen of the community.  The hearing officer cannot be a technical expert. The public hearing can be closed at any time when the Planning Commission thinks that they have all of the public comment.  Riggs stated that following the public hearing, the Planning Commission evaluates the public comment, balances it with other facts and data, reaches a decision and makes an official recommendation to the governing body.  Under law the recommendation to the governing body is a synopsis of the public hearing in writing.  Riggs read from the handout “It is interesting to note, however, that while a public hearing may be required, the Planning Commission is not legally bound to abide by the majority opinion expressed at the meeting.  It is important to remember that the Commission is charged with representing all of the people of the community, not just the small sample appearing at the hearing.  In this regard, any decision reached by the Planning Commission must reflect the good of the entire community, and not merely the wishes of a small and highly vocal minority.”  Riggs stated in conclusion that the Planning Commission should not take a public hearing lightly.


3. Review of By-Laws

John Riggs stated that a Planning Commission should always have regular meetings so the public knows when the meeting will be held.  There are always issues to be discussed.  Looking at the bylaws, the meetings are scheduled for the first Tuesday of every month at 7:00 P.M.  The membership requirement is not less than seven (7) members and not more than fifteen (15) members of which two (2) shall reside outside the city, but within the area of influence.  The Commission discussed that with seven (7) members the requirements of a quorum is four (4) members.  Riggs stated that a Commissioner cannot avoid a difficult vote by stating a conflict of interest.  A conflict of interest is legally described as being monetary of nature or financial.  Riggs pointed out that Planning Commissioners serve without compensation; however, members may receive reimbursement for their authorized out-of-pocket expenses.  Lonnie Stieben pointed out that the by-laws state, “voting shall be by individual voice vote”.  John Riggs stated that in some cities the vote is by individual voice with the reason stated for why the individual voted a certain way.  Riggs stated that the Planning Commission does a pretty good job of following procedures during meetings and hearings.  Riggs continued to state that he could suggest a more formal process of reporting  ex parte contacts.  Any time a Commissioner has an out of session contact regarding an issue on an agenda item it should be reported prior to the discussion.


Lonnie Stieben questioned at what time does the Planning Commission get involved with future projects in the City?  Stieben continued to explain that he is talking about anything that might come out of Focus on the Future or the 2009 Fourth Avenue improvement.  John Riggs stated that by law once the Planning Commission has adopted a Comprehensive Plan the governing body may not approve a major project until it is submitted to the Planning Commission for recommendation as to whether it is in compliance with the Plan.  Riggs stated this includes a major street improvement, major annexation, major utility improvement, and etc.  City Administrator Brown added that the only question the Planning Commission has to answer back to the Council is “does this project conform to the Comprehensive Plan”.



4.         Review Preliminary Plat of Seniors Addition


City Administrator Brown distributed copies of the preliminary plat and drainage plan for the Seniors Addition.  The Commissioners discussed the drainage of storm water from the property. After a brief review and discussion Brown stated that he reviewed the preliminary plat checklist and the only thing he found missing is the outside drainage agreement.  The Commissioners decided to table the preliminary plat until a drainage agreement is presented.


5.        Adjournment


With there being no further business to come before the Commission, Langston made a motion to adjourn the meeting. The motion was seconded by Lawrenz and passed unanimously.




State of Kansas                    }

County of Sedgwick            }

City of Clearwater               }


I, Cheryl Wright, City Clerk of the City of Clearwater, Sedgwick County, Kansas, hereby certify that the foregoing is a true and correct copy of the approved minutes of the January 3, 2006 Planning Commission meeting.


Given under my hand and official seal of the City of Clearwater, this 7th day of February 2006.


Cheryl S. Wright, City Clerk

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Upcoming Events
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