Four appointed to planning commission

Four people were appointed to the planning commission at Monday's city council meeting following discussion that included testimony in opposition to one appointment.

The vote was 5-1, with City Councilor Erik Erichsen voting "no" and City Councilor Susan Lorenzen abstaining.

The four-year terms of four planning commission members, two city resident positions and two county resident positions, expire on Jan. 1, 2009.

Eight applicants were interviewed by a council-

approved committee on Dec. 2.

The committee recommended incumbent Barbara Richmond for Position 4 and Olaf Protze for Position 1, both city positions. It also recommended incumbent Larry Freedman, the current chairman, for Position 7 and Julie Anna Gardner for Position 3, both county positions.

When Mayor Laura Dubois asked for public comment, Judy Larson said she was concerned about Freedman because he favored development too much, which is not the balance of views the council is seeking. The planning commission doesn't always have to have two county residents, it's better to have a wider diversity of views, she said.

"I disagree greatly," said City Councilor Walt Schubert.

"He brings a great amount of knowledge. I always look to the planning commission and its recommendations," he said.

Erichsen said he agreed with Larson.

"When the four of us were campaigning we heard a lot

about having a major developer

on the planning commission, that it was just not appropriate."

City Councilor Susan Lorenzen said she had to echo Erichsen's comments.

"The voters put me here and I was asked about this by a lot of people and it doesn't sit well with them," she said.

City Councilor Bill Huizinga said many of Freedman's critics have not observed what he has done.

Many of his decisions don't favor developers, such as those concerning affordable housing, he said.

"He's not self-serving. He provides an invaluable service," Huizinga said.

Current planning commissioners Mark Ozias and Dick Foster decided not to seek appointment to another term.

The planning commission makes recommendations to the city council on land development actions including zoning regulations and the city's comprehensive plan, which is the framework for development within the city. It also approves certain land use actions, such as conditional use permits and shoreline substantial development permits.

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