|Council Gives Itself
More Clout To Overturn Planning Actions
February 7, 1996
WEST COUNTY TIMES
Wednesday, February 7, 1996
RICHMOND In a decision dreaded by Planning Commission members, the Richmond City Council has voted to make it easier for council members to overturn Planning Commission decisions on conditional use permits, zoning changes and variances.
The Monday decision makes it possible for the council to overturn commission decisions by a simple majority five people rather than the previous super-majority of six.
The change applies to the existing zoning ordinance. The new ordinance, which will likely go into effect this spring, also requires only a simple majority to override commission decisions.
The commission is "diametrically opposed" to the change, said commission Chairwoman Virginia Finlay. Requiring six votes to change commission decisions helps keep the process less politicized, she said.
Finlay said Tuesday she sees the change as an attempt to dilute the Planning Commission's influence.
"It's all a power play," she said. "No question."
The vote to eliminate the super-majority requirement was 6-3, with Mayor Rosemary Corbin, Councilman John Marquez and Councilman Tom Butt voting no.
The Planning Commission is made up of nine members of the public, appointed by the mayor and not paid for their time.
The commission rules on how property owners may use and develop their land. For example, it decides whether to approve new business uses for certain areas, whether to allow a homeowner to add on to a house or garage and whether to approve subdivisions of lots.
Any property owner who disagrees with a Planning Commission decision may appeal that decision to the City Council.