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Some planners frustrated with less attendance

How many excused absences should Planning Commission members get?

That's a question that came up at the commission's Tuesday meeting at the Civic Center.

At 10:20 p.m., after the audience had evaporated, Commission Chair Michael Dawkins brought up the topic of absences, commenting that some commissioners had skipped several meetings last year.

"I've felt like within the last couple of years we've become a little more lackadaisical about being on the Planning Commission," Dawkins said. "Maybe we should be a little more forceful about it."

"It kind of, to me, messes up the energy of the commission when we're not all here consistently time after time," he said.

In the past four months, Commissioner Tom Dimitre was absent five times, Commissioner Debbie Miller four times, Commissioner Dave Dotterrer two times, Commissioner Mick Church two times and former Commission Chair John Stromberg one time, according to city records.

Church said he is planning to go on a four-month vacation later this year and would resign from his position beforehand if the other commissioners think it would be unfair for him to miss the approximately eight meetings during that time.

Planning Commission meetings are generally scheduled twice per month.

City Attorney Richard Appicello said a commissioner can miss as much as one-third of all meetings and still be considered an active member, according to city policy.

That means if Church didn't miss any other meetings this year, besides those during his four-month vacation, he would likely still be able to remain on the commission, Appicello said.

Commissioner Mike Morris also said he was bothered by the number of absences lately on the commission.

"It's kind of disturbing," he said. "Having been here for 11 years, I don't plan anything on Tuesdays. I turn stuff down. It's kind of frustrating for me that, man, I could have done all of this other stuff."

Several commissioners, however, said the absences, as long as they were excused, didn't bother them.

"I have noticed that we've had absences, but I've been very clear: I think nine people is really too big of a commission to begin with, so that when we have some absences, we still have plenty of people to have a discussion," Commissioner Pam Marsh said.

Miller said she's glad that the commissioners have active lives outside of their city positions.

"I don't think there are people who stay home and sit in their hot tub," she said.

The commissioners agreed to "police" themselves about the absences and may discuss the matter further to decide how many absences are too many.

Staff Writer Hannah Guzik can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 226 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.