Wanted: citizens to serve on P&Z
It’s Tuesday night in the old Pitkin County Courthouse. More than a dozen people, including a couple of county staff planners, two P&Z members and half-a-dozen highly paid professionals, have assembled to discuss an application for a multimillion-dollar luxury development. But the meeting doesn’t start.Everyone is waiting to see if enough P&Z members will show up to hold an official meeting and vote on the application. About 15 minutes after the published starting time, a third commissioner comes in, filling the official quorum, and the meeting gets under way.The P&Z has lost two regular members and one alternate in about a year, with the resignation of Chairman David Guthrie last spring, the election of alternate Patti Clapper to the Board of County Commissioners in November, and the resignation of Chairwoman Marcella Larsen, who was hired as assistant county attorney early this year. In that time, only one replacement, Sheri Sanzone, has been appointed.Chairman Peter Martin said a full complement on the commission, according to county code, would be five regular members and two alternates. Right now, the board has four members – Martin, Doug Unfug, Steve Whipple, and Sanzone – and one alternate, Charlie Tarver. Though Tarver is an alternate, Martin said, he almost always votes on issues, because his presence is needed to fill a quorum.Recently, Martin said, the board has always squeaked by with a quorum. But with weighty decisions to be made, Martin said he feels more commissioners should be present.”For major decisions, we need five people there. I think we have more credibility when we have a full complement,” Martin said. The citizen-member P&Z makes recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners on land-use applications, code amendments, and such matters.Future agendas for the P&Z include code amendments, long-range planning issues and the revision of the Aspen Area Community Plan, as well as applications for large development projects.In other words, serving on the P&Z gives members some influence over the future of the upper valley. “This is where the action is, and we need some qualified candidates,” Martin said.Martin said the commission needs individuals who have the well-being of the community in mind. “We need people with continuing interest, not private agendas.”The process for selection of P&Z members is the same as with other county volunteer boards. The county places ads in local papers, and prospective members are interviewed and appointed by the BOCC.Karen Sahr, of the county’s administrative offices, said the BOCC has interviewed seven candidates for the P&Z since February, but no appointments have been made.
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