POLK COUNTY -- They resigned from the Polk County Planning Commission in April, but last week almost all of the planning commissioners reapplied for their positions -- and, in addition, 13 others have applied to replace or join them.
Polk County Commissioners said they hope to have a new Planning Commission in place by the end of June.
Polk County's Planning Commissioners were among dozens of paid and unpaid officeholders in Oregon who resigned in protest over state ethics reporting requirements added in April. Polk County lost nearly its entire planning commission except for John Condon, who had just been appointed, leaving the planning commission without a quorum.
But last week, Robert J. Slyh, Gerald C. Freeman, Don J. Duhrkopf, Jim Morrison and Wayne Simmons asked for their jobs back. Phillip F. Green, whose term expires in December, is the only resigning commissioner who did not apply to be reappointed.
Thirteen others have applied to join the county planning commission: Jason Brown, Michael Cairns, E.M. Easterly, Bill Farmer, Norbert Hartmann Jr., Gregory Guy, Richard Horning, Jack Lentsch, Michael Lippsmeyer, Craig Schmele, Michael Schilling, Paul Smull, and Paul Wheeler.
The Polk County Planning Commission is a volunteer land-use advisory body to the Polk County Commissioners, who make the final land-use decisions, according to Austin McGuigan, director of Polk County's Community Development Department.
McGuigan said that he believes that the extent to which these volunteers had to reveal personal family information, as required by the new Oregon Statement of Economic Interest filing forms, prompted the protest that led to the resignations. In April, many said that they had resigned because the information would be made public, others said the forms were too long and personal. The original intent of the document had been to deter political conflicts of interest.
Although the Legislature is looking into simplifying the forms, the documents will still be required by the new Polk County Planning Commissioners.
Once appointed, Polk's Planning Commissioners will need to get busy on several issues: Independence-area urban growth boundary expansion and gravel pit issues have been awaiting hearings; a two-year Legislative work plan has been put on hold until the full planning commission returns to work.