Letter: Charter revisions attempt a partisan takeover of P&Z
To the Editor:
The Planning and Zoning Commission does not at present function in a partisan way. Members from both parties treat each other with respect and vote on matters related to the future of our city.
Currently the Shelton charter stipulates that at least two of the six Planning and Zoning commissioners come from a minority party. In the proposed charter revision, the commission would be increased to seven members with only two required from a minority party.
It is critically important to promote and maintain a process that the public can trust. When there is an appearance of one-party control, that trust is eroded.
Planning and Zoning decisions are not easy as there are often competing interests at stake. However, most decisions are reached by consensus, close to or nearly unanimous. In fact, it takes four votes to pass a zone change on a six-member commission. Oftentimes differences do not fall along party lines. As stated, it is not a partisan process but a thoughtful one that is based on the particulars of a development.
The proposed charter revisions would put the hiring and removal of all staff support for the commission in the hands of the mayor’s office. If approved, the commission would play no role in the appointment of new Planning and Zoning staff. This removes another layer of accountability in city government and further concentrates power to a select few.
The proposed charter revision changes, including the changes proposed for Planning and Zoning, are geared toward enhancing one party control. Having less balance in city governance is not the way to promote public trust and does not even serve the interests of a majority party. If this proposal is approved, we will have to live with this charter revision for the next 10 years. Boards and commissions should be designed in a way to benefit the public, not political parties or the mayor’s office. Please vote no to the charter revision on Nov. 3.
Commissioner Elaine Matto
Commissioner Jimmy Tickey
Alternate Commissioner John Uysal