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Novak attempts to unseat planning commissioner

Staff writer

An attempt by county commissioner Dianne Novak to replace a member of the planning commission and board of zoning appeals came to an abrupt end Monday after she rescinded her motion to appoint a former road and bridge department employee.

Commissioners decided in December to restructure the board to 11 members after five commissioners were seated. Each commissioner would appoint two board members and an 11th member would be chosen at large.

Novak intended to appoint Larry Cushinberry to the board, but was met with questions from commissioner Randy Dallke, who wondered if a former county employee should be appointed.

Commissioners weren’t sure if the commission needed to vote to affirm the appointment.

County counsel Brad Jantz was sick Monday and not available to answer their question.

Novak quickly grew frustrated with what she apparently received as an attempt to block her appointment.

“Every appointment I’ve made since I’ve been a commissioner, Randy Dallke fights me on it,” Novak said. “Every single appointment I’ve ever made, Randy Dallke has a problem with it.”

Novak’s intention with Cushinberry’s proposed appointment was to replace sitting board member Derek Belton.

“In my district, Derek Belton has served two full terms,” Novak said. “Each term is three years. Every time they fulfill a three-year term they are up for appointment.”

Planning and zoning regulations permit a board member to serve as many as three consecutive terms at the will of the commission.

“I’m a term limit person,” Novak said. “He’s served two full terms, and I’m going to appoint someone new. I will not appoint him to serve another term. I rescinded the motion because they wanted to know if they need to vote.”

Novak said the term of William Kroupa, the other seated board member in her commission district, will expire at the end of this year. She plans to let him complete his term and decide at the end of the year whether to appoint someone new.

That decision will also hinge on what Kroupa wants, Novak said.

She added that she has not decided whether she herself will run for re-election to the commission.

Other commissioners’ plans

Commissioner Jonah Gehring said he hasn’t received any applications for planning board positions, and he’s not decided whether to replace either of two members still serving terms.

“Until I have an application in hand, there is no reason to remove anybody,” Gehring said. “I’ve told some people that an application is available on the website. I have not gotten any back.”

Dallke said he has two sitting board members in his district.

“I believe I need to appoint one at the end of his term,” Dallke said.

Commissioner Kent Becker, who has one seated member on the board, plans to appoint a second member.

“I’m not going to replace the one that I have,” Becker said. “I have one I need to appoint yet. I’ve been talking to several people.”

Commissioner David Crofoot likewise has one seated board member in his district, and he plans to let that member finish his term. He needs to appoint a second person in his district.

“I’m waiting for clarification from our legal council before I appoint anyone,” Crofoot said.

No candidates for the board’s at-large position have yet been discussed by commissioners.

“There are several people who have submitted applications for the at-large position,” Novak said. “So far, what I’ve seen and heard, there are several good choices for the at-large position.”

Belton could not be reached for comment by press time.

Last modified Jan. 9, 2020

 

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