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Tonight: Woodside considers new membership rules for town committees

 

Woodside regulations already prevent those serving on the Town Council or the Planning Commission from serving on any of the 11 committees that advise the council on matters such as town history, traffic circulation, open space, trails, and equestrian heritage.

Should that restriction – intended to avoid conflicts of interest – be extended to members of the Architectural & Site Review Board, which advises the planning director on whether a proposed development is consistent with the general plan and residential design guidelines? Historic structures, open space easements and new trails all have the potential to be considered by the review board.

Should the restriction apply to the members of every committee?

The council discussed this topic Jan. 26, but with three of the seven members absent, the members agreed to continue the discussion with a full council present. It's on the Tuesday, Feb. 9, agenda. The meeting at 7:30 p.m. in Independence Hall at 2955 Woodside Road.

Also on the agenda:

■ Appointments and/or re-appointments to the Planning Commission.

■ Definitions for several below-ground residential structures, including basements.

■ A discussion on requesting proposals from consulting architects to assist residents in preparing construction plans consistent with residential design guidelines.

Committee membership

The Architectural & Site Review Board's mission is associated with a key town priority: protecting Woodside's rural character and natural beauty by reviewing development applications and advising whether their community character, site planning, building design, and landscape elements are consistent with the general plan, residential design guidelines and municipal code.

The board makes recommendations to the planning director, the "vast majority" of which the planning director accepts, Town Manager Kevin Bryant told the council on Jan. 26. "They have a real role in reviewing peoples' projects," he said, while the other committees tend to be "primarily advisory in nature."

Does the review board's role present a potential for conflict of interest? Planning Director Jackie Young gave some examples of circumstances that might be interpreted as conflicted in that they would be considered by the review board and another panel:

■ A proposal to modify a home or part of a home that meets national standards for historic preservation and would go for comment to the History Committee, then to the review board.

■ An application to create or modify an open-space easement would go to the Open Space Committee, then to the review board.

■ A new horse trail or a trail across a new driveway would go to the Trails Committee, then to the review board.

Six resident volunteers (including three members of the ASRB) have seats on two town advisory panels.

The town's 2014 handbook for the Town Council, on the topic of appointing volunteers to any town panel, advises the council to "favor applicants who do not already belong to another board, commission or committee."

In the Jan. 26 discussion, the council members discussed several options, including leaving things as they are, prohibiting someone from serving on two panels if one of them is the Architectural & Site Review Board, extending the restriction to all panels, and requiring someone sitting on two panels to limit participation in a matter to one of them -- a recusal.

Related story: Woodside council considers limits on basements.

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