Commissioner invites citizen input at town meetings

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Two appeals of Planning Commission items will be heard by the Council this month. At an appeal, the Council may affirm, overturn or modify Commission decisions. In this case, I expect some modification, since new information about possible drainage-way blockage was observed after our Brace Ranch hearing, and the Morgan Estates offer of open space land to the town is not within the Commission's authority to accept. The Council will need to decide whether to accept this offer, given our policy not to own land that would have maintenance costs. In regard to fees, a July 17 letter asserted that there is no cost to an appeal. While the town no longer charges for an appeal, the cost, according to our old schedule, is over $1000 in staff time, copies, notices, etc. This is now absorbed by the town (that's us, the taxpayers) to make appeals affordable to all. Finally, a clarification regarding Councilman Scherer's July meeting assertions berating other Council members for individually meeting with the Montserrat developer or biologist to learn about the tree plan. Informational meetings and tours were accepted individually by several Council members along with his or her Commissioner. Mr. Scherer asserted these were tantamount to a violation of the Brown Act open meeting law. He is absolutely wrong, but the audience didn't know that. The Brown Act ensures that no majority (3 of the 5 Council members) discusses a Council item outside of a publicly noticed meeting. The law states that it does nor pertain to individual contacts or conversations between a member and any other person, Cal. Gov. Code 54952.2c. In fact, less than an hour later, Mr. Scherer discussed his own meeting with the Brace Ranch developer, obviously applying his own principle selectively. Nobody calls him on the carpet for doing so, or infers he was receiving something from the developer. Nor should other Council members be smeared for their informational meetings. Come to meetings and give your input. Do your homework. The staff report is available to read at the library on the weekend before a meeting, or see a copy at Town Hall. Jean Wilson Loomis Planning Commissioner