Pair of vacancies leaves planning commission searching for candidates

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By Brandon Mattingly

The search is on to fill a pair of vacancies on the Washington County Planning Commission and anyone wanting to help push WC in the right direction is encouraged to apply.

Not much is required of anyone interested in the openings as far as prerequisites according to Washington County Planning Commissioner Buddy Parker, just that newcomers have a real desire to improve the county.

“They don’t have to have a financial background and they don’t have to have a real estate background,” he said. “We just want somebody who has an interest in the direction of the community and wants to be involved.”

The planning commission has been a part of county government in Washington County since 1992, and although subdivision of property has declined since 2008 thanks in large part to the struggling economy, there are still matters that need to be handled and the county is looking for additional voices to be heard regarding those decisions.

Harvey Johnson (chairman), Jimmy Carrico (vice-chairman), Joey Purdom (secretary/treasurer), William “Bud” Blair and Ernest Goff are the five that currently make up the board, with hopes of getting back to seven members. As Parker pointed out, it’s not all about the quantity of voices being heard on the commission, but who those voices represent.

“The importance of seven is that you have more input, that’s the key,” Parker said. “We would like to have input from all over the county. We try to get someone from every district, but it doesn’t always work out that way.”

At the moment, the commission is without representatives from District 1 (Terry Tingle’s magisterial district) or District 5 (Billy Riney, Jr.). Interested parties from either of those areas would be a step toward Parker’s goal of county-wide representation, but he emphasized that anyone in the county with interest, not just residents from a certain region, should make an inquiry about the openings.

Parker understands any reservations residents may have about joining the commission. He said that although dedicated individuals are wanted and eight hours of training are required every two years for each board member, the workload won’t be a large undertaking for new members.

“We try to have a meeting once a month, but sometimes that just doesn’t happen because there are no plats to review,” Parker said.

The meetings, held in the evening, would provide helpful resources for new members. Aside from Parker and the rest of the commission, attorney Tim Butler of Bardstown, who specializes in real estate, is present at the meetings to answer any questions and provide guidance where needed.

Parker has been county planning commissioner since November after retiring as an employee to the city of Louisville in May of last year. His current post is still new to him as well, so he said he understands that new members will need to learn as they go.

“I’ve enjoyed it. It’s been something new and different for me,” he said. “The challenge was just trying to understand the various subdivision regulations and that’s ongoing on a daily basis. I’m constantly getting more familiar with the county although I’ve lived here since 2006.”

Now would be as good of a time as any for a couple of extra voices to be heard on the commission, as Washington County’s five-year comprehensive plan — last updated in May 2008 — is already being prepared to be presented to fiscal court in the coming months.

Anyone interested in applying for the position should contact Parker or the Washington County Judge-Executive’s office.

“We don’t really have a formal application process. Some people just don’t like doing that,” Parker said. “If you want to come in and talk and express interest, I’ll take your name and we’ll go to (Washington County Judge-Executive John Settles) and sit down and talk about it.”

Parker can be reached during his office hours at 336-5415 on Monday or Thursday between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m.