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Paonia P&Z at full strength, will meet July 9

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After months of seeing little to no action, the Paonia Planning and Zoning Commission will meet at 6 p.m. Monday, July 9, to conduct a special review for permitted uses and to consider a request for a zoning change from R-1 (single residential) to R-2 for 123 Oak Avenue.

Also on the agenda, at 6:30 p.m. the commission will hold a special review regarding compliance with town Municipal Code for Edesia Community Kitchen & Farmers Market, Christian Scale and Edward Meade, 395 Clark Avenue, Unit A.

At the June board meeting, Mayor Charles Stewart appointed Lucy Hunter to a three-year term on the planning commission. Hunter is a licensed civil engineer with 18 years of experience and principal of Odisea, a Paonia-based engineering firm currently serving as engineers for the Town of Cedaredge.

Hunter filled the seat vacated by Mary Bachran, who resigned in April after being elected to the Board of Trustees. In addition to the work she has done locally, Hunter spent more than two years supervising architects and engineers in Afghanistan designing infrastructure and buildings for the Afghan National Police National Training Center.

Construction contractor Steve Clisset, licensed architect Doug Beall, and Thomas Markle, who has a background in mechanical engineering and construction management, also submitted applications. Elaine Brett, who lives just beyond town limits, applied as a non-voting member representing those living in the planning area, but not within town limits.

"We listen to everybody, whether they're residents or not residents," said Stewart. But nothing in the code allows for such an appointment.

Stewart said he was "thrilled" that the town received five applications. "In years past we did not have this kind of interest."

There was so little interest, in fact, that the town had to improvise. Until 2015, explained town clerk Corinne Ferguson, the planning commission and zoning board had enough members to function as two separate entities. With too few citizens expressing an interest in serving on either board in recent years, the town began appointing all applicants to both the planning commission and zoning board.

At the urging of town administrator Ken Knight, last December, trustees voted to combine the two entities into the "Planning and Zoning Commission." Mayor Stewart and trustee Bill Bear also serve on the commission.

With four qualified applicants to choose from, Thomas Markle was appointed to the Zoning Board of Adjustments. Jim Normandin also serves on the zoning board, which hears and decides appeals for building permit applications denied based on administrative decisions or town code enforcement, and considers approval of projects that contain exceptions to the town code.

Stewart urged the applicants who weren't selected for appointment, and the public, to attend the meetings. "We've had a lot of planning commission meetings where there is nobody there, and what the planning commission does is important," said Stewart.

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