Who sets agenda for Cincinnati planning commission?
At least three Cincinnati Council Members are expressing concern after the city manager removed an item from the city planning commission's November 21st meeting regarding Wasson Way.
Harry Black said he asked the item be removed because he did not believe it had been thoroughly vetted. Black is also a member of the planning commission.
Council Member Yvette Simpson said that action could mean there is an extra level of review for some items.
“I don’t see the Charter granting the type of authority that’s been provided here,” Simpson said. “That worries me too. I think if that type of power needed to be there, it would be expressly provided by the Charter and it’s not.”
Council Member Wendell Young said the manager’s decision concerns him about the ability of the planning commission to operate independently.
“And I don’t believe that the city manager as things are currently set-up has overstepped his authority,” Young said. “But it certainly does give rise to this question about how independent are these boards and commissions if in fact you can do what you did.”
The city's planning director serves as secretary for the planning commission and puts together the agenda. But the planning director also reports to the city manager.
The issue with Wasson Way pits rail opponents against those who support rail transit.
The city is looking to create a bike/hike trail along the former rail line on the city's east side. Some want to make sure a rail option is preserved in the plan while others oppose that.
If the city planning commission were to endorse that proposal, it would take six members of Council to override that decision.
Planning Commission Chairman Caleb Faux said the manager could have expressed his concern at the meeting instead of taking it off the agenda.
Faux said the item was coming back to the commission for discussion after it had been talked about in September prior to Black joining the group. He said in his 15 years on the commission, it is unprecedented for the manager to take an item off the agenda.