UPDATE: Planning and Zoning Commission application deadline extended again

Thursday, June 18, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 6:21 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 12, 2009

COLUMBIA — The Columbia City Council decided Monday night to again extend the time window for allowing applications for the city's Planning and Zoning Commission.

The two most recent applicants, Don Stamper and Rusty Strodtman, have close connections to the business community. Stamper is executive director of the Central Missouri Development Council, an advocacy group for builders and developers. Strodtman is the senior leasing manager for Forum Development Group.

The most recent round of applications is the second attempt by the council to find other applicants for the commission. Two applicants were previously interviewed by the council in April, but the governing body decided that, based on the interviews, they wanted more options, Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala said.

Strodtman said it seemed strange that neither he nor Stamper were selected by the council. It made him believe the council may have a different agenda, he said.

"I was a little disappointed they couldn't just pick from the existing candidates," he said.

He said he's asked the Columbia Chamber of Commerce to review the council's commissioner-selection process, and they implied they would.

Stamper could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.

Skala, who made the motion Monday night to extend the application process, said the main reason was that the pool of applicants was too small. Usually the council has to narrow down the applicants it wants to interview.

He said the two applicants may have conflicts of interest in certain projects. Isolated conflicts shouldn't be a problem he said, but too many could mean the commissioner would have to abstain from too many votes.

"We would wind up appointing somebody who would really only be serving part time," he said.

He added he's not ruling out either of the applicants, just that he would be more comfortable with more to choose from.

Fourth Ward Councilman Jerry Wade said in order to have a variety of perspectives on the commission, you need a variety of applicants.

"I think we were concerned at the lack of a pool to make selections from," he said. "It seems to be a small, constrained pool and didn't allow us enough options."

Applications for the commission must be submitted to the city by early July. The council will then schedule interviews with applicants.

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