With an unusual number of people applying this year, the City Council will have quite a task when deciding who will serve on the Planning and Zoning Commission for the next five years.
The council has 21 applications to sort through for three seats on the commission.
Newly elected Fourth Ward City Councilman Jerry Wade said he does not recall ever having so many applicants for the planning commission. Wade, who served on the commission for 15 years and as chairman for eight years, said he remembers the most applicants being only eight or nine.
“I hope this reflects a growing interest to serve the community,” Wade said. “I hope there will be more people who want to serve on other boards and commissions.”
Among applicants for the commission are former council candidates, current commission members and others who want to serve their community.
Current commissioners Jeff Barrow, who is serving as chairman, and Charles Lamb are applying for a new term. Former Third Ward City Council candidate Gary Kespohl is also among the applicants for the commission.
Kespohl said the planning and zoning commission is a natural progression for him after losing the election.
“I ran for the City Council and lost by 60-some votes,” he said. “I just feel like I want to serve the community.
“I don’t have any set agenda,” Kespohl said. “I just want to see Columbia be the best it can be.”
Todd Iveson, an attorney in the state attorney general’s office, said he has been considering applying for the commission for several years. He said the commission suits his abilities and interests.
Iveson, 52, is concerned with the city’s planning procedures and thinks the city should be more proactive.
“A lot of our planning seems to be reactive rather than proactive,” he said. “We wait for development to rise before we come up with a plan.”
Attorney and general contractor Matthew Darrough, 36, said his interest in the Planning and Zoning Commission was sparked by the City Council elections.
“I got really involved with the City Council elections for the first time this year,” he said. “I thought a great way to serve the community was to get involved with a board that serves the council.”
Darrough said he looked at the boards and commissions that aid the council. Because he has a background in construction, the Planning and Zoning Commission seemed to be the best fit for him.
The commission is responsible for preparing and submitting plans for development and zoning to the City Council. Members of the commission must be qualified voters and residents of Columbia for at least one year before appointment by the council. They serve five-year terms, with openings occurring in May.
Wade said the process will be difficult this year because there are a lot of really good applicants. However, he said it is good to have several applicants from which to choose.
“It’s very important that we get the best applicants we can, and we need a good pool to select from,” he said.
Applications are now closed for the planning commission, but the city clerk is accepting applications for 12 other boards and commissions, including the Building Construction Codes Commission, Community Development Commission, Board of Health, Health Insurance Appeals Board, and the Parks and Recreation Commission. Applications are due by noon on May 4 and can be obtained at the clerk’s office, 701 E. Broadway, fourth floor, or on the city’s Web site, gocolumbiamo.com. More information about all of the city’s boards and commissions is also available on the Web site.