A plan to change how the City-County Planning Commission of Warren County votes on certain items has cleared its first three hurdles, but a final decision on the changes rests with the county’s smaller cities.
Warren Fiscal Court voted 5-0 Friday in an online meeting to approve on first reading an amendment to how the planning commission operates. The amendment would give more weight to the city of Bowling Green and the unincorporated areas of the county on rezonings and other property-specific actions but maintain the joint nature of the commission on broader planning issues.
That vote followed earlier first-reading approvals by the Bowling Green City Commission and Woodburn City Commission.
The amendment requires approval on two readings by fiscal court and the cities of Bowling Green, Oakland, Plum Springs, Smiths Grove and Woodburn.
The Plum Springs City Commission will consider the new proposal at its meeting Thursday, but Oakland and Smiths Grove don’t plan to have it on their agendas until January.
Ben Peterson, the planning commission’s executive director, said efforts to amend the joint agreement to better reflect population centers and funding of the commission have been in the works for about two years. The joint agreement was last revised in 2001, he said.
“There have been several versions, but this is the one we (planning commission staff) had the most input on,” Peterson said. “I think we have something that works, something that makes sense from a population and funding standpoint.”
In a presentation at Thursday’s planning commission meeting, Peterson said Bowling Green and unincorporated Warren County have 67 percent of the potential voting power on the planning commission but make up more than 98 percent of the population and funding for the commission.
The proposed changes seek to correct this imbalance as fairly as possible, according to Peterson’s presentation, while not changing the joint nature of the planning commission.
“All communities will be part of long-range planning,” Peterson said. “Voting on property-specific applications will be based on a new format that reflects the population and funding makeup.”
Currently, all 12 planning commission members (four each from Warren County and the city of Bowling Green and one each from the four small cities) vote on all matters that come before the commission.
Under the amended plan, all 12 will continue to vote on broad policy matters such as changes to the county’s comprehensive plan and Future Land Use Map.
Voting on zoning changes and other applications related to specific properties will be handled differently under the amended plan.
For such applications in the Bowling Green city limits or in unincorporated Warren County, only the four Bowling Green and the four county representatives will vote.
For applications in the city limits of one of the four small cities or within a quarter-mile of the city limits, the appointee of that small city will vote along with the four county-appointed commission members.
In a memo to all six legislative bodies that are partners in the planning commission, Peterson and planning commission attorney Hamp Moore wrote that the proposed changes “accomplish the goals given to us of continuing to plan together as a community while creating a voting mix that better reflects funding levels and the population makeup of Warren County and its incorporated jurisdictions.”