Tuesday evening the Plymouth Plan Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals heard the recommendation of member Fred Webster to implement a stipend for members to attend the meetings.
Webster said for the past several years the Plan Commission has had trouble having enough members attend a meeting to get a quorum. He said the BZA has encountered the same issue. He said when citizens attend the meetings to conduct business, sometimes with an attorney, architects, or anyone from out-of-town, “If we don’t have a quorum, it doesn’t look very good.”
Webster said he is the liaison on the County Plan Commission, and he said they don’t seem to have any problems getting members to show up to a board meeting.
He said, “Occasionally there will be one member that doesn’t show up but that’s about it.” Webster said the county pays its board members a stipend for attending the meetings. He proposed asking the Common Council to consider paying members who attend the Plymouth Plan Commission or BZA meeting a stipend as a way to incentivize people to attend.
Fred Webster said the city is getting ready to prepare the 2023 budget, so this is the right time to seek support and hopefully encourage members to attend the monthly meetings. He said he has spoken to the mayor and clerk-treasurer about the possibility.
City Attorney Sean Surrisi said Mayor Senter put out to area mayors to see if they have paid board and if so, what the pay was. Surrisi said it was about 50% who said they have paid board members although the amount was all over the board.
Plan Commission member Mark Gidley said there are a couple of members who rarely show up to a meeting. We should consider setting a number of missed meetings and you are asked if they truly want to be on the board or be removed.
Plan Director Ralph Booker said, “I think we passed rules of procedure a few years ago.” He was also to investigate and bring back information to the Plan Commission.
The Board of Zoning Appeals heard the same comments from Fred Webster who is an alternate on the BZA. Again Tuesday night it took two alternates attending the meeting to be able the make decisions by having a quorum.
BZA President Art Jacobs said, “I don’t think pay will help. I think it’s more important to hold us accountable. Members should hold themselves accountable.” Jacobs said he has spoken to the city attorney about having the mayor replace the members who aren’t attending.
BZA member Mark Gidley said, “I don’t want someone here just interested in getting $50. I want someone here who will contribute and cares about the community and gets involved in the cases. There are members who come to these meetings and don’t even know what’s in the board packets until they get here.”
It was commented that members have been asked to notify the city office if they are not going to be able to attend a meeting but that doesn’t always happen. Jacobs said, “I think it’s pretty disrespectful to the ones who do show up, for someone to know even say they can’t make it.”
The Plan Commission and BZA will forward their request to the Common Council for a determination of a stipend.
Members of the Plymouth Plan Commission are Bill Walters who is appointed by the Board of Public Works and Safety, Randy Longanecker who is appointed by the City Council, Alex Eads who is a member of the Plymouth Park Board and is appointed by the Park Board, Fred Webster, Linda Secor, Beth Pinkerton, Angela Rupchcok-Schafer and John Yadon appointed by the mayor, the City Engineer, Mark Gidley representing the 2-mile and Doug Feece the other 2-mile representative are appointed by the Marshall County Commissioners. County Commission Stan Klotz is a member of the County Plan Commission and a liaison to the city Plan Commission.
The Board of Zoning Appeals includes Art Jacobs, Alan Selge, John Yadon who are appointed by the mayor and Mark Gidley appointed by the Plymouth Plan Commission and lives outside the city limits, Keith Wickens who is appointed by the City Council and is not a member of the Plan Commission, Linda Secor an alternate appointed by the mayor and Fred Webster and alternate appointed by the City Council.