Planning and zoning moves to 5 members

The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors is reducing the number of planning and zoning commission members from six to five.
The commission is currently made up of Barb Allen, Bryant Amos, Bill Jacobs, Naomi McCunn, and Randy Pendleton. The commission’s sixth member, Vicki Rossander, resigned from the board due to a move to another city.
At the regular Montgomery County Board of Supervisors meeting on Jan. 31, Rossander, who owns property in Stanton, expressed concerns over the county declining to appoint someone to fill her vacancy.
“It is certainly disappointing to me to learn that the county has decided not to fill my vacancy on the planning and zoning commission. I have asked several times over the past several weeks who made the decision not to fill the vacancy, as well as when the decision was made,” Rossander said.
Rossander felt the planning and zoning commission was one of the most important entities the county had.
“Just in the last year, the commission has written a solar ordinance, a pipeline ordinance, and is now working on updating its wind ordinance. It’s vitally important the planning and zoning commission have a full set of commissioners. If the supervisors has chosen to reduce the number of commissioners, the public should be made aware of that fact, as well as the reason for the decision,” commented Rossander.
Rossander felt it was unfortunate the decision was made without transparency and without explanation to the public.
“I am aware of two individuals who were planning on submitting an application to fill my vacancy, so saying no one wants the position would be inaccurate. Not filling the vacancy was not discussed by the planning and zoning committee, and as far as I know, it was never discussed at a board of supervisors meeting,” Rossander stated.
Supervisors Chairman Mike Olson said the decision not to fill Rossander’s vacancy was part of an effort to reduce the planning and zoning board to five members.
“We have five member boards across the county. We needed a total number on the board of five or seven members, and we decided a couple of years ago that getting five members was difficult, let alone seven. The last time we sought members for the board, there were four current members, and we had two applicants, Vicki Rossander and Naomi McCunn,” Olson said. “We ended up putting both on the board, with McCunn intended to be an alternate, but she became a regular board member, and so for the past several years we went ahead and kept it at six members. But we can’t operate long term with a six member board, because theoretically, we could end up with a tie vote. Now that Vicki Rossander is resigning, McCunn can officially become the commission’s fifth member, and we can keep the total number on that board to five members, and prevent the possibility of the tie vote we’d get with an even number of board members. We want an odd number board.”
Olson further explained that if Rossander’s resignation had dropped the total member number to four members, applications would have been reviewed by the planning and zoning board, and an appointment would have been made.
Also, on Jan. 30, the planning and zoning commission approved passage of an updated ordinance in regards to the Summit Carbon Pipeline project. The meeting was routine, and no public comment was made during the meeting.
Rural Red Oak resident Jan Norris said she was pleased that the commission had passed the new ordinance.
“I thank the supervisors for engaging outside council to assist with moving the county through this process. I encourage the board to perform the necessary three public hearings, and ask that you ultimately adopt the ordinance,” Norris said. “This ordinance has been carefully thought out, and many other counties are doing something similar. Resigning zoning commissioner Vicki Rossander has been a driving force on that board, and she deserves our gratitude.”
Norris also stated that no one wants the county’s economy to suffer, and a good portion of her own income came from agriculture.
“Please consider if losing ethanol plants without this pipeline is actually true. Ask for proof. SIRE in Council Bluffs is not participating. In fact, 15% of all ethanol produced in Iowa has chosen not to sign on with the pipelines,” commented Norris. “There are plenty of other viable options for CO2, but Summit doesn’t want you to know that. Just last week Ethanol Producer Magazine profiled a company called Carbon Sink that will produce methanol for ocean freighters and will build facilities at at least 10 Midwest ethanol plants, providing genuine long term local jobs without damage to our land.”
Norris also stated Iowa Agribusiness Radio reported the Department of Energy has announced $118 million in funding to expand U.S. biofuel production, which the CEO of Growth Energy says will open many new markets. Even the president says there will be no achieving the goal of net zero by 2050 without biofuels.
Norris urged the supervisors to challenge what they were hearing, not just accept Summit’s talking points, and that ethanol would not go away without the pipeline.

The Red Oak Express

2012 Commerce Drive
P.O. Box 377
Red Oak, IA 51566
Phone: 712-623-2566 Fax: 712-623-2568

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