- Special Sections
- Public Notices
Two newly appointed members of the Bedford County Planning Commission do not intend to take the Virginia Certified Planning Commissioners’ Program, even though a provision requiring that remains in the planning commission’s bylaws.
County Attorney Carl Boggess has written a legal opinion stating that the planning commission has no mechanism to enforce this bylaw.
Here is why the two men aren’t going to attend the program.
Tommy Scott was appointed at the beginning of this year to fill the District 5 seat on the planning commission.
Scott said that he takes the contents of the agenda packets he receives very seriously. When the commission is faced with making a recommendation affecting a piece of property — a rezoning request for example — he drives out to the property and personally looks at it. He reads about the request.
“Then, when I go to the [planning commission] meetings, I listen to both sides,” he said.
Scott believes that his willingness to listen plus the time he dedicates to advance preparation for the meeting makes him prepared to make a decision.
“I can make a common-sense call on doing the right thing,” he said.
Scott owns Scott’s Cabinet, a business that builds custom cabinetry, and has been in business in Bedford County for 40 years. He currently has 12 employees. He said that he takes the same approach to his role as a planning commissioner that he does to his business.
His business is why he doesn’t plan to take the Planning Commissioner’s Program, which he said, involves a three day session followed by a one-day session.
“It would be very hard for me as a business owner to go to a three-day event,” Scott said.
“Three days away from my job is a lot,” he added. “I don’t have someone who I can say to, ‘Run my job’ while I’m gone.”
Scott said that there are certain jobs in his business that he is the only one who does. This means that taking a vacation requires careful planning.
“It’s really hard for me to take a vacation,” he said.
Then, there is an issue of principle. Scott notes that the provision that newly appointed planning commissioners take the course is not enforceable.
“If you don’t have any power to enforce it, what good is it?” he asked.
Scott said that this requirement caught him by surprise.
“I didn’t know it was a requirement until after I was a commissioner and I got my packet in the mail,” he said.
Jerry Craig was also appointed to the planning commission this year. Craig represents District 7.
He provided a written statement.
“An article in our bylaws requires such training yet the Commission has no authority to make this requirement if the state doesn’t,” he wrote. “Our meetings are governed by Robert’s Rules of Order which clearly states that bylaws must contain articles that are enforceable. Therefore this article should be deleted.”
“It’s all about wrong bylaws, according to Robert’s Rules of Order,” Craig said.
Craig said that he already knows a great deal about zoning from serving on the county’s agricultural board from April, 2007 to January, 2012. He believes that this gave him an advantage when he was appointed to the planning commission.
He believes that local training sessions would be more valuable than multi-day out-of-town classes. Scott also believes that local training opportunities would work better.