With Signal Mountain Mayor Bill Lusk's resignation from the Planning Commission, his replacement, Vice Mayor Susan Robertson, is stepping into an extremely busy season for town development.
"My work travel schedule has been intense over the last six months. As a result I am not able to contribute what I should to the Planning Commission," said Lusk in explanation for his self-removal from the commission. "It's a critical time for the Planning Commission. That's another reason why I brought this up right now."
The "critical" issues Lusk referred to include the ongoing subdivision regulation revisions, a possible change in the Planned Unit Development Ordinance, zoning revisions as well as Jack Kruesi's application for Wild Ridge at Fox Run.
Councilman Bill Wallace as well as Robertson expressed interest in serving on the Planning Commission at a recent work session after Lusk announced his resignation. The decision to appoint Robertson was made at the regular Town Council meeting Feb. 11, though the decision was not unanimous.
"Susan is aware of the current activities of the Planning Commission and is extremely knowledgable on the subject matter," Lusk said. "I felt because it is such a critical time ... that she was the best suited at this time. Of course, the Council might change their mind [in the future]."
According to town law, the mayor is an automatic member of the Planning Commission unless he chooses to appoint a council member in his place. Upon Lusk's nomination of Robertson at the Town Council meeting, Wallace again expressed his interest in taking his place and pointed out that Robertson had recently given the responsibilities as liaison of the Tree Board over to him because she said she did not have the time to put into the board. Wallace was the only council member to vote against her appointment to the Planning Commission.
"I wanted to get on the Planning Commission to try to get them to finally do something," he said in a follow-up conversation, referring to what he said has been six years of working on the subdivision regulations. "They've done some great work, and it's very tedious and meticulous work, but at some point you've got to get something done.
"Everybody's scared about development," Wallace added. "The longer they put it off the better it is for people that don't want anything to happen."
Councilwoman and Planning Commissioner Annette Allen said the subdivision regulation revisions began in February 2008 and the Planning Commission is ready to present them to the public in mid-March. A public meeting will be held that will highlight major principles and differences of the new regulations, she added.
"It has required a lot of work; with the moratorium we've had the luxury of taking our time and getting it right," she said. "I don't see that anyone has suffered to take this time. The time we take will only result in a better product for our community. And we've saved the town a lot of money by doing this on our own."
The Planning Commission based the new subdivision regulations off of regulations crafted for the cities of Portland and Fairview, Tenn.
"We took that model and went over every word and made it work for our community," said Allen. "We've really done our due diligence. We didn't just adopt an off-the-shelf set of regulations. I think we have a really good product."