Commissioner tries to stop appointment
The appointment of Wayne Omps to the Morgan County Planning Commission is on hold due to questions raised by County Commissioner Brenda Hutchinson.
Omps' appointment to the planning group will be discussed at the Morgan County Commission meeting on Friday, August 10.
Hutchinson refused to sign Omps' appointment to the planning board when it was presented to her as a written order shortly before the commissioners' lunch break last Friday, July 27.
Commissioners Glen Stotler and Thomas Swaim signed the appointment.
Omps would replace longtime member Dan Kidwell, who resigned this spring.
Hutchinson expressed concerns about the appointment to reporters that afternoon when the commissioners toured a possible site for a skateboard-bicycle park across from the ball fields on U.S. 522, south of Berkeley Springs.
Hutchinson said the appointment papers were handed to her at the last minute before lunch, after citizens and members of the press had left the morning's session.
Hutchinson said she did not know that Omps' appointment was coming that day. The paperwork was just placed before her without discussion. There was no one present except county employees.
The reappointment of Louise Spring to the Morgan County Board of Health was also put before her. Hutchinson said she had no problem with reappointing Spring.
Hutchinson defeated Omps for county commissioner last November, but said her objection to his appointment was not personal. She felt Omps was too pro-development to be a good candidate for the planning board.
Hutchinson had raised the issue of Omps' development interests during last year's campaign. She won by a 57% to 37% margin over Omps.
The other 6% of the vote went to write-in candidate Carl Cowgill, who was recently reappointed to the planning commission without objection from Hutchinson.
Hutchinson said she wouldn't consider herself to be a good candidate for the planning board either, because she's too closely associated with zoning.
Hutchinson felt the planners should be unbiased and neutral toward development in general. She thought planning board members almost had more power than county commissioners in making decisions.
"These board appointments are really important. They shape the county. These are the people that make the decisions," said Hutchinson.
Hutchinson told Commissioner Swaim that the appointment should have been brought up publicly.
Swaim said the appointment was presented at a public meeting. "I can't help it if the public got up and left," he said.
Swaim said Hutchinson had signed four planning reappointments without issue at their last meeting. They were Brad Close, Carl Cowgill, Richard Harvey and Mary Ellen Largent.
Swaim himself represents the county commission on the planning board.
"I would like to see more discussion of board appointments than a piece of paper shoved in front of me," Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson wanted to see all the resumes of people who had applied for the planning board.
Swaim said Omps put in his application about six months ago and that the file of resumes for county boards was available any time for Hutchinson to review.
Swaim felt they had done their homework before recommending the appointments for approval. He did not say how Omps was chosen.
To be "revisited"
Commission President Stotler said he had no problem with putting Omps' appointment on hold and revisiting it at their next meeting on Friday, August 10.
Swaim also agreed to discuss the appointment then.
Hutchinson said she wanted to discuss all county board appointments in front of the public. That's how the State Code says they are supposed to have their discussions, she said.
Hutchinson also wants the county board appointments scheduled as items for discussion on meeting agendas.
Appointments have generally been listed as items at the bottom of the agenda sheet and can be placed before the commission at any time.