The Grand County Council has reversed its appointment of a new member to the Grand County Planning and Zoning Commission.
On Dec. 18, the council voted to give Gerrish Willis a three-year term on the advisory panel. However, the council rescinded that action Wednesday, Jan. 2, and replaced Willis with Ryan McCandless.
The vote was 6-1 with Ken Ballantyne opposing the change.
Planning Commission members recommended McCandless for the appointment after they conducted interviews with some candidates on Dec. 12.
Council member Jim Nyland, who made the motion to replace Willis with McCandless, said he was bothered by the fact Willis missed his Planning Commission interview. However, he said his main motivation in appointing McCandless was because the commission had recommended him.
During last week’s council meeting, Nyland said he has frequently been upset that the council hasn’t always followed recommendations from advisory groups when naming members to those bodies. He called it “my biggest heartburn over the years.”
The county’s land use code gives the Planning Commission a choice whether to interview all or none of the candidates for membership. However, Grand County Attorney Andrew Fitzgerald said the council could legally rescind its previous decision, based on provisions in Robert’s Rules of Order.
Willis spoke briefly prior to the council’s decision to rescind the appointment. He said he missed the Planning Commission interview meeting because he was helping his daughter in Oregon, who recently had a baby.
“I was expecting to be interviewed by phone,” he said. “I am not certain if missing the interview is the rationale for this [removal] or not.”
During an interview outside the meeting, Willis said he told planning department officials he would be out of town during the interview meeting and that he would be available by telephone.
“It’s bewildering,” he said after the council’s vote. “I knew I was well-qualified for the position.”
Darcey Brown spoke in support of Willis before the council made its decision. She said she was “very impressed with him” during work on Trail Mix issues.
Willis’ application indicates that he retired from the U.S. Forest Service after 32 years of employment.
“Much of the work I did was related to planning issues interpreting forest plan direction when analyzing projects and land uses,” he wrote in the application. “For several years I worked in Forest Service real estate, preparing land exchanges and land purchases when it was necessary to understand the implications of zoning codes as they related to parcels under consideration for acquisition. I have a lot of experience reading and understanding regulations.”
McCandless is the owner of a convenience store. He previously worked for Southern Paving and for S&S Enterprises. In the latter job, McCandless wrote, he “was part of many drainage, utility and subdivision projects.”
He added in the application, “My wife and I recently attended the majority of public meetings concerning the county general plan update.”
McCandless said during his interview with the commission that he had not attended commission meetings before. However, he said in the application that he wants to be pro-active “in seeing that the county grows in a positive direction.”
Two other December appointments to the Planning Commission are unaffected by last week’s council action. Mike Duncan will serve a three-year term and Dave Stolfa will fill a one-year vacancy.
Duncan and Stolfa each received five votes from Planning Commission members, followed by McCandless, who received three. Willis received two votes.