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Ad Hoc Group to Weigh In on Mid-City West PLUC

By Josh Premako, 5/03/2012

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The Mid-City West Community Council’s executive council moved closer Tuesday night to again having a functioning planning and land use committee (PLUC), nearly two months after it was disbanded amid claims of personality clashes.

Council Chair Sheryl Turner directed council member Tim Deegan to head up the formation of an ad hoc committee and report back to the executive council on May 21 with recommendations for potential new PLUC members.

Deegan said his plan is to form an ad hoc committee comprised of representatives from the executive council, the Mid-City board, former PLUC members and community stakeholders.

The ad hoc committee could include “maybe one from each group,” he said. “We’ll put them in a paper bag and let them shake it up.”

The 12-member PLUC, which reviews and makes recommendations on development projects and land-use changes, was essentially disbanded at a March 6 executive committee meeting, when all the members except Chairman Stan Brent were voted off.

Brent drafted a list of recommendations for reforming the PLUC and presented them at Tuesday’s meeting. Among his recommendations were to change the committee to nine members serving three-year terms rather than two years; and  having the city’s Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE) conduct interviewees and make recommendations for potential members.

Additional recommendations were to conduct training in planning issues with DONE and the city planning department; and having members pass the city Ethics Commission’s online training program.

The Mid-City West council is one of 95 neighborhood councils overseen by DONE.

“I think this is a great start,” said Jim O’Sullivan, president of the Miracle Mile Residential Association.

Among concerns raised Tuesday by committee members and stakeholders was the suggestion of a three-year term, which O’Sullivan said would give PLUC members “a leg up” in the Mid-City board elections held every two years.

Committee members and stakeholders also stressed that project applicants should provide the PLUC with as much information as possible prior to planning meetings. Brent’s recommendation list proposed that while applicants should provide material seven days before a meeting, presentations could still be made if materials were not received in a timely manner.

“Don’t bring projects before committees if they’re not fully vetted,” O’Sullivan said.

At Turner’s direction, Brent will revise his recommendation list, and the executive council will revisit the PLUC situation on May 21.

Brent indicated Tuesday’s meeting went better than he expected, but said, “it’s going to be very contentious no matter who’s accepted onto this committee.”

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