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Combining boards sparks debate

By Staff | Jun 24, 2012

Discussion heated up as the Faribault County Board of Commissioners considered combining two boards to establish a new hybrid board, but were unable to agree upon a decision.

Michele Stindtman suggested the idea of joining the Board of Adjustments with the Planning Board to the county commissioners at the June 19 meeting.

With the loss of Harold Grabouski this past April, the membership on the Board of Adjustments has been lacking.

Grabouski had been working on training and was handling a lot of the situations for the Board of Adjustments.

“I would like to merge the boards, since we are two people short on the Board of Adjustments,”?Stindtman says.

She would like to see the two boards combine, creating a 10-member board that will make the planning and zoning decisions.

At this point, there is no one available to make variance decisions due to lack of board members.

Commissioner Tom Warmka was concerned with the concept of one board making all the planning and zoning decisions.

“I am just afraid that if people are denied, they’re going to have to go back in front of the exact same group of people again,” he says.

Commissioner Greg Young was thinking along the same lines as Warmka, and fears that the merging of the boards might lead to a more biased decision-making process.

With the same person taking part in both processes, he says that it would be difficult to look each situation based on it’s own set of facts.

Defending the concept, Commissioner Tom Loveall stated that it is possible to sit on two boards without letting it affect how you make decisions.

“You’re assuming that a person couldn’t do both,” Loveall says. “We all sit on different boards and you know when you need to focus on one role and not the other.”

Another debate amongst commissioners on this suggestion, is whether or not members on this new board should come from the different townships or if anyone in the county city residents included could sit on the board.

“Well, deciding upon the correct people would be your responsibility,”?Stindtman says.

She has been working to educate the board members and fears that if it continues this way, the current board is going to continue to look to her for guidance.

“If we combine these boards all of the members would learn the ordinances, including the board of adjustments,”?she says.

Both Martin and Cass county have combined their boards creating a similar hybrid board to the one Faribault would like to implement.

According to Stindtman, this is a concept that many places are turning to because they, like Faribault County, are unable to find enough people to sit on the boards separately.

Due to lack of time at the regular meeting, the commissioners decided to table discussion until the next session.

“I cannot accept any variances at this point, then.”?Stindtman adds.

In other business;

County Engineer John McDonald came to the board meeting with an update concerning the progress of some of the road projects in the county.

The work on the bridge on Highway 1 is near completion and the work there should be finished up very soon.

Also, the culvert work on Highway 16 should be done by the end of the month, followed by the resurfacing of that road.

“A number of our guys will be out working on roads and mowing so we just ask that the public slow down so they can do their jobs safely,”?McDonald adds.