The city of Pataskala will fill two open seats on the seven-member planning and zoning commission Sept. 20.

The city of Pataskala will fill two open seats on the seven-member planning and zoning commission Sept. 20.

Per the city charter, Mayor Steve Butcher appoints and council confirms the appointees.

The commission meets the first and third Wednesdays of each month for about two hours.

"We want someone who can be open-minded and fair," said Dianne Harris, planning and zoning director. "You want to think in terms of what's best for the city and the city's comprehensive plan, rather than personal goals. You need to be someone who appreciates what it represents."

One appointment will be for little more than one year, filling a term that expires Dec. 31, 2011. The other appointment will be for about three years, filling a term that expires Dec. 31, 2013.

City administrator Tim Boland said the slow economy has meant a dearth of development work for the commission recently, but that should change soon.

"Because of the economic downturn, we have not had the same number of development plans submitted, but they are looking at the sign code and look at planning, so once the economy does pick up steam, we'll have reflected on the code and made some more changes," Boland said.

Harris said the board has large membership so it could represent a broad sampling of community viewpoints.

"Some people think you have to be an architect or engineer or a planner," Harris said. "That's not really true. You just need to evaluate what comes before the commission. I think one reason the board is so large is to try to get as many geographic areas as possible represented, as well as different walks of life, so you've got a good spectrum represented on the board."

The board's duties include reviewing specific development applications and zoning changes and long-range planning.

"The first and foremost duty is to conduct planning activities, such as recommending changes to the comprehensive plan," Harris said. "Second would be to recommend changes to the zoning code and rezoning of property."

One of the topics that might come up in the next two years is an examination of the city's comprehensive plan.

"As a matter of good planning practice, a community should re-evaluate its plan each five to 10 years," Harris said. "This plan is getting near that time. It's been on the administration's agenda to discuss whether to undertake an update. I've been a bit resistant because it took many years to get this plan passed. The city had initiated work in 2000 or 2001, and it was passed in 2006."

The board also currently is examining the city's sign code, Harris said. Many variances have been requested, suggesting that the code might no longer fit what the community is doing.
Harris said she also expects a "community visioning" process soon.

"Revisions to the zoning code are probably more important right now," Harris said. "My perception is that the plan still reflects the community's vision. We may in 2011 do what we call community visioning. That could be a gauge to tell us whether the plan has drifted from what the community wants."

In addition to the regular meetings, Harris said, commission members should expect to spend a few hours each month preparing for meetings.

Those interested in joining the commission should submit a letter of interest and rsum in person or by mail to the Clerk of Council at the Municipal Building, 621 W. Broad St., Pataskala, 43062, by fax to (740) 927-0679 or by e-mail to Applications must be submitted by Wednesday, Sept. 15.

Questions should be directed to the mayor to Susan Thompson, clerk to the zoning commission, at (740) 927-4910.