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City loses plan commission

February 6, 2013

    The City of Decatur is without a plan commission. But don't fret, one is on the way and no doubt will be in place in a couple of weeks.
    The plan commission was dissolved Tuesday and all seven members tendered their resignations. It was a procedure designed to comply with Indiana law.
    "It's a very complex situation," Mayor John Schultz said at Tuesday night's city council meeting. It is, however, being quickly resolved and a new plan commission will soon be in place, albeit with new faces.
    When Nate Rumschlag was hired by the city as its civil engineer some months back, it forced a change in the way the plan commission is set up. When a city has a civil engineer, the section of law under which the commission is appointed is different than the section which the current (until Tuesday, anyway) commission was set up.
    The old commission had four citizens appointed by the mayor and three by council. Council chose three from within its ranks: Charlie Cook, Matt Dyer and Cam Collier. The mayor tapped Steve Hakes, Greg Kitson, Barb Engle and Bill Karbach.
    Under the new system, however, there will be nine members on the board: one each appointed by the engineer, the Board of Works, the council and the city park board, plus five named by the mayor. The mayor cannot select anyone from council's ranks.
    All new members will be serving staggered terms.
    The new commission already has three members, council having named Cook as its appointee at last night's meeting and the Board of Works, prior to the council meeting, tapping Karbach. Plus, as the only person in his department, Rumschlag has to appoint himself.
    In addition, the mayor said he has talked to Hakes, Kitson and Engle and all have agreed to take new terms.
    That leaves one member from its ranks to be decided by the park board, likely to be done at its meeting next Monday (and likely to be Larry Isch), and two more mayoral appointments.
    During the meeting, council accepted the Board of Works' recommendation that all resignations be accepted and then adopted an ordinance approving the move by the plan commission to dissolve itself.
    A plan commission has no authority to make or adopt ordinances; it acts purely in an advisory role. It will, for instance, advise city government on development plans for subdivisions, commercial and industrial structures, as well as on unit developments. It will review any proposed amendments to a city's zoning ordinance and make recommendations.
    
       

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