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April 24, 2024

Ford County Regional Planning Commission operating outside the law

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On September 9, 2018

Ford Co. (ECWd) –

During the last Ford County Planning Commission, I asked by a show of hands if any of the board members had read their powers and duties for the office they held.  Not a single person raised their hand to confirm they had done so although one person did nod his head in the affirmative. I contend that one person might want to go back and read it again.

The planning commission met for the purpose of discussing/reviewing/recommending proposed changes to the WECS Ordinance, which is related to the Wind Farms in Ford County.

A Regional Planning Commission has no power to review and recommend County Ordinances as such power was withheld from them.

“Said Commission shall be a fact finding body and shall make such investigations and gather such statistics as it shall deem necessary for the planning and development of said region, and shall make a plan of said region to include all matter which it may deem necessary for the development of the region as provided above.”

A Joint Regional Planning Commission (JRPC), however, does have such authority.

The joint regional planning commission is authorized to prepare zoning and building codes, ordinances or resolutions for submission to and adoption by the various member county boards.”

Had the legislature intended for a County Regional Planning Commission to have such powers they would have included it as they did for a JRPC. Case law on such matters outlines a power withheld is the same as the exercise of the power being prohibited by law. We mention that for all those that will say they can do it since the law doesn’t say they cant.

“They come within the principle of law that *Page 302 where the legislature has withheld a power it is the same as though the exercise of the power was prohibited by law. (Ashton V. Cook County)

Additionally, an FOIA request by a local citizen has confirmed only 1 member, Todd Sommer, of the County Regional Planning Commission was compliant with the legal obligation to complete their Open Meetings Act Training at the time of the request.   The FOIA request did trigger compliance for Chairman Oyer and Duane Hitchens, however, that still leaves 4 other members that had failed to comply with the mandated training.

I guess laws don’t matter in Ford County.

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  • Pete Marwick
    Posted at 09:51h, 10 September

    It does not appear to be any penalty for not doing the OMA training, other than being not as educated on the topic as others. I can see why someone would not do it.

  • LocalPundit
    Posted at 13:00h, 10 September

    Pete, please don’t make excuses for elected officials…they’re good enough at making them up for themselves.

    When I served as a County Board member, I was appalled at the number of my colleagues who did not even read the packet of meeting materials prepared by county staff (no penalty for that either).

    If they don’t want to do the work why do they run for office (or get themselves appointed)?

  • Pete Marwick
    Posted at 13:36h, 11 September

    I’m just pointing out the law’s lack of teeth. I agree with your comment, if you don’t want to prepare yourself for the meetings, don’t run.