Moab’s mayor and city council have expressed a desire to increase the number of members of the city’s planning commission to seven, adding two to the five-person commission currently defined in city code.
Planning commission members themselves seemed favorable to the idea during a meeting with the council last month, but indicated enlarging the commission would be difficult, owing to a lack of people with enough interest in serving on the commission.
“Personally, I would love to have seven; I think the town could use a seven-person commission. But I don’t know if that’s something someone would want to do,” said Commission Member Jeannette Kopell, during a joint meeting of council and commission.
Kopell and others spoke of the difficulty it had been to find people with enough time and interest to serve on the commission. Even with only five people, it’s sometimes challenging to have the necessary quorum for a meeting.
“I don’t think we could attract seven people,” she said. “Maybe, but history has shown me otherwise.”
The idea to raise the commission’s number came from Moab City Mayor Emily Niehaus, who felt that it would be easier to get a quorum if more people were named as members. It may be more likely to get four out of seven together at a time than it now is to get three out of five, she reasoned.
“It’s probably worth it right now to recognize you don’t have a quorum,” Niehaus said. And, the mayor added, her reason for suggesting the change was that “I see there’s a lot of stuff to get done.”
Annexation applications, a major revision to land-use code currently underway, and suggestions to examine and perhaps create an assured-housing policy and planned area development policy (in addition to current planned unit development policy) are all big items on the commission’s plate, in addition to its regular business.
The council seemed inclined to do away with the idea of “alternate” members. As it is now, city code calls for five members and two alternates. The commission currently has no alternates, and has a regular-member vacancy.
Council members favored the addition of two more members.
“Do you think maybe the climate of the city has changed a little bit, and we might be able to attract people?” asked Council Member Tawny Knuteson-Boyd. “I just kind of get the feeling that the climate of town has changed a tiny bit, and maybe we could.”
Kopell replied, “Put your toes in the water and find out … there has been a big influx of people come into Moab since I’ve been here. So what the heck? I say go for it.”
If the city does increase the size of the commission, it will require an ordinance change which itself will require a public hearing.
In the meantime, the commission has one empty seat to fill. Niehaus is waiting to do that until the city can create and adopt a formal job description of commission members.
“The work of the planning commission is so important,” she said.
According to Moab City Manager David Everitt, anyone interested on serving on the planning commission should contact the city at 435-259-5121.