Amid a storm of mounting controversy, questions and legal inquiries that include the office of the Missouri Attorney General, Camden County Planning and Zoning Administrator, Don Hathaway resigned at Wednesday evening’s meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Hathaway has been at the center of these and many other scandals during his tenure with Camden County Planning and Zoning. Hathaway, who is not a resident of Camden County, was best known for his highly questionable actions in Planning and Zoning. Most recently, he found himself entangled in violations of procedure regarding Kris Franken’s unilateral attempt to rewrite Article 800 of Camden County’s Universal Land Use Code, or ULC as it is commonly referred.
Hathaway’s role in Franken’s rewrite attempt was the subject of many questions, including those raised by Camden County Second District Commissioner Cliff Luber.
The following editorial was written by Second District Camden County Commissioner, Cliff Luber and appeared on http://www.americanspring2011.com on Tuesday, March 18 under the title ‘P&Z Problems, Questions Mount in Camden County’.
It’s one thing to require that citizens comply with the Unified Land Use Code (ULUC) regarding Planning & Zoning, but why does P&Z not follow their own rules?
The ULUC Art. 302, subsection (3) states: ” At its regularly scheduled meeting in January of each year, the Planning Commission SHALL by a majority vote of its membership (excluding vacant seats) elect one of its members to serve as Chairman to preside over all meetings and one member as Vice-Chair who will preside in the event the Chairman is un able to.” There should have been a vote to elect a Chairman and Vice-Chair at its meeting last January. In reviewing the minutes, there was no mention of an election. It raises potential legal questions on the current legitimacy of the P&Z Board.
Prior to the February 19th P&Z meeting, the Planning & Zoning Administrator complained to Commissioner Thomas regarding the manner in which Art. 800 was being introduced by Mr. Franken, in particular coming from one commissioner rather than the Planning Commission. The Planning & Zoning Administrator then stated a sudden reversal in the P&Z meeting and claimed to have asked Commissioner Franken to write it, months ago. (See audio from February 19th P&Z Meeting) Since the P&Z Administrator now “claims” he requested Commissioner Franken rewrite Art. 800, and the anticipation of receiving such a re-write, when does P&Z anticipate the forming of a review committee?
Art. 1402 of the ULUC states: Whenever a request to amend the Unified Land Use Code or the Zoning Map is initiated by the County Commission, The Planning Commission, or the Board Of Adjustment, the Planning Administrator, in consultation with legal counsel, shall draft the appropriate language and present it to the Planning Commission so that a date for a public hearing may be established.” It appears evident Mr. Franken does not have the authority to request/submit a change to the ULUC without a request/vote by the County Commission. There was no such meeting or vote.
Section 1402, subsection (2) does allow for a citizen to request a change to the ULUC, providing they fill out the proper Planning & Zoning paperwork, and pay a ridiculous fee of $1,000.00. Given Mr. Franken is an elected official, I do not believe he qualifies as a citizen in respect to requesting a change through that venue.
In Art. 1402, It appears the P&Z Administrator does not possess the authority to request of a Commissioner, or anyone to rewrite any portion of the ULUC. It states the Planning & Zoning Administrator, in consultation with legal counsel, shall draft the appropriate language and present it to the Planning Commission.
The ULUC requirement for a County Commission, Planning Commission, or Board Of Adjustment, to make such a request to the Planning Administrator, is intended to not allow a government of one to submit a unilateral request that could be either beneficial or negatively prejudicial on a citizen(s) or business in this community. These three entities are each a board and there is a reason it specifies such. It’s called checks and balances.
There are many issues regarding Art. 800, and certainly to not discuss them as a Commission of three and only be given five business days to give additions/deletions through an email vs. commissioner meetings, is not acceptable. Any rewrite of this importance requires an extensive dialogue.
The Commission has also recently received more incidents where land was mis-zoned by Camden County and property owners were requesting their land be properly zoned. I brought this to Mr. Franken’s attention as early as March, over a year ago, with several examples. He refused to take any action to assist the citizens of Camden County. (Listen to May,10th audio of the County Commission meeting)
These landowners were forced to pay an $ 800.00 rezoning fee to come into compliance due to Camden County incorrectly designating the proper land use. This is simply unfair to citizens and inhibits business growth. As more mis-zoned properties are coming to light, Mr. Franken and P&Z are having to admit the widespread problem. Planning & Zoning last month finally suggested a future policy change, but to date they have not taken any action.
Last week Commissioner Thomas and myself have taken the initiative to put together a draft to change the ULUC, to include no fees where the county is in error. We will be discussing and voting on it at the Tuesday Commissioner’s meeting. Upon approval and under Art. 1402 of the ULUC, The Commission will then make a request to the P&Z Commission for approval.
Rules should apply the same to everyone, not just some. Another recent discovery of Mr. Franken waiving fees was on February 11, 2013, for a Board of Adjustment hearing, which would cost any other citizen $500.00.He clearly waived the fees. There wasn’t any meeting, or vote, just a government of one deciding.
It is important to be honest and transparent to the citizens. These rules are in place for a reason. The citizens of this county elected me a year and a half ago with the motto “Vote Yourself A Voice” and as the 2nd District Commissioner I will continue to be their advocate in Camden County Govt.
This was the most recent issue dogging Hathaway, but it was not the only one. Local business owners Theresa Townsend and the Morris’ voiced their concerns regarding the selective application of P&Z under Hathaway. It was discovered that Planning and Zoning had spent thousands of dollars in legal fees in the pursuit of anonymous complaints, a practice clearly prohibited by the Camden County Universal Land Use Code. Hathaway was the front man for the tabled revisions to Article 600 and its vague language and hefty fines.
Hathaway was not without his supporters. After serving a suspension late in 2013, Suzie Johnson and her husband, Joe Roeger and Kim Krostue rallied in support of Hathaway and the direction he was leading Planning and Zoning.
To say that Hathaway left a trail of bodies in his wake would be an understatement. He is departing under the looming shadow of an inquiry into Camden County P&Z by both the Missouri State Attorney General’s office and the Missouri Ethics Commission.
Nor was Hathaway the only resignation announced Wednesday night. Planning and Zoning board member Mickey McDuffy also announced she would not be seeking reappointment. It is unknown at this time if she is taking her “rubber stamp” with her as she scurries along behind Hathaway.
As one of his final actions, Hathaway put the election of P&Z Commissioner on the agenda for Wednesday night’s meeting. This office was awarded, again, to Jerry Carroll. Alison Schneider, sports reporter from The Lake Today, was named as Vice chair. She was appointed to the board in 2013.
On his way out the door, Hathaway issued a spew of allegations, claiming that Commissioner Luber had created a ‘hostile work environment’. This is an interesting claim considering his own history in the halls of the courthouse…
Stay tuned to http://www.americanspring2011.com and Guerrilla Radio with American Spring for more on this story as it continues to unfold…..