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Mancos board changes rules for planning and zoning commission

Penalties for non-attendance
Courtesy Photo/The Journal<br><br>Regina Roberts

After months of discussion, the Mancos board of trustees voted Wednesday to reduce the size of the planning and zoning commission and to establish penalties for commissioners who don’t attend.

The five-member planning and zoning commission has canceled several meetings over the past year due to a lack of quorum. Since December 2017, the board of trustees has been discussing ways to prevent such cancellations, and in February several board members met with two of the commissioners to discuss the issue. During their Wednesday meeting, the trustees passed an ordinance that changes the municipal code’s rules on planning and zoning to comply with suggestions raised in that discussion.

Under the new ordinance, the planning and zoning commission will be reduced from five to three regular members, with two alternates who will be required to attend meetings. Both will be paid $50 per month, but only if they attend. If a member misses two meetings in a row, or three meetings in a 12-month period, they will be required to attend a hearing before the town board “to determine next steps.” The ordinance also allows the mayor or another town board member to vote in order to break a tie.

Commissioner Regina Roberts, who did not attend the February workshop, voiced her concerns about the changes. She said she agreed with the idea of paying alternates and requiring them to attend meetings, but took issue with reducing the commission’s size and allowing a board member to vote.

“I’m concerned that if we lower the total number of seven possible commissioners, including the alternates, to five, we may find ourselves without anybody,” she said.

Roberts pointed out that with only two commissioners needed to make a quorum, ties may become more common. She said allowing a town board member to break those ties would “cause some problems with keeping the two entities separate.”

The board members dismissed Roberts’ concerns, several of them saying they hoped the ordinance would be a wake-up call to current and prospective commissioners.

“The main thing is, the status quo is not working,” trustee Craig Benally said.

Lorraine Becker said the town will rely on the commission to meet this year in order to review proposed changes to the land use code and other issues. Mayor Queenie Barz said the commission could cost the town money if it canceled a meeting with an advertised public hearing.

The board voted unanimously to approve the ordinance. It will go into effect April 13.

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