At yesterday’s Delta County Commissioner public meeting, Commissioners shocked members of the community when they appointed a new representative from the Cedaredge area to the board of the Delta County Planning Commission, and effectively removed the Paonia area representative without appropriate public notice and open discussion.
Jen Sanborn, who has been Paonia’s representative on the planning board for the past three years, suddenly lost her seat in a chaotic process that has left many members of the public questioning the decision.
“As I’ve been serving on the board for a month of what I thought was my new term, this comes as a surprise,” Sanborn told Citizen Report. “My term was up Jan 31, 2018. I was reminded by Elyse (Casselberry) to submit a letter if I was interested in continuing on. I did on January 8. I never heard back so assumed I was back on and worked through February.”
In an agenda posted on Friday, Commissioners notified the public that it planned a “Consideration of Planning Commission appointments to represent District 1 and District 2 per Resolution 2017-020.” At Monday’s meeting, they voted to reappoint Steve Shea to represent District 1 and, a new board member, Lucinda Stanley to represent District 2.
“Without any communication or notice, the Commissioners chose not to renew Sanborn’s term, and eliminated the Paonia seat,” writes Citizens for a Healthy Community in an email alert asking group members to attend the upcoming planning meeting on Wed, March 7 at the Maloney House starting at 5:30pm.
At Monday’s meeting, the District 3 elimination was not mentioned on record leaving members of the media and the public scrambling for information about the two appointments since the Commissioners can only appointment nine total members. “The numbers didn’t add up. There appeared to be ten members,” says JoAnn Kalenak, lead blogger for Citizen Report. When questioned during a recess period, Commissioner Roeber told Citizen Report that Jen Sanborn’s seat had been eliminated.
Citizen Report asked the county in an email sent on Friday, before the Commissioner’s public meeting, for clarification about the agenda item to consider the planning board appointments and was told simply, “There are nine members total. There are two terms expiring.”
Sunshine Law requires detail on a public agenda “whenever possible.” It seems clear that the board intended to eliminate Jen Sanborn’s position with their appointment actions and choose to keep quiet up to, and including, the time that the new appointment was made.
In an emailed response, Elyse Casselberry, Delta County’s Community Outreach Director, defended the Commissioners right to make the appointments and noted, “We don’t anticipate this affecting the master plan process other than staff will have to invest extra time with our new PC member to bring them up to speed to help with the transition.”
The Planning Commission has logged countless hours, over the past year and a half, developing an update to the County’s Master Plan. Sanborn has been instrumental in the rewrite with particular focus on economic development in the North Fork, as well as energy and land-use planning.
Resolutions 2017-016 and 2017-020 — which are exactly the same in language — were adopted on April 17 and July 3, 2017 respectively, and enabled the Commissioners to add two additional board positions to the planning commission. Resolution 2017-021, also adopted on July 3, 2017, approved the change to the commission’s bylaws detailing the board’s composition and how representation would be divided.