Kennel owner not happy with lack of decision by Oskie commissioner
by Dennis Sharkey
A dispute over a dog kennel is still unresolved because of confusion by the Oskaloosa Planning and Zoning Commission.
A new member of the commissioin, Sam Mowder, said told the city council last Thursday that they did not want to vote on the issue of a dog kennel on Hamilton Street.
Mowder said the commission, which has several new members, was confused about what they were supposed to do and that they had little knowledge of procedures.Mowder also said the commission closed the meeting to the public after all testimony was heard. He said commission members didn’t want to discuss their differences in the public. Mowder acted as if the commission was confused about the closed session.
City Clerk Patty Hamm asked City Attorney Mike Hayes if the commission could go into closed session. Hayes said under Kansas law they are allowed.
“They can have executive session but they can’t make any decisions in executive session,” Hayes said.
Hayes told the council that they cannot act on the matter until the commission provides a recommendation for approval or denial.
“If you don’t have a recommendation you don’t have anything before you to act upon,” Hayes told the council. “They have to make a decision one way or another.”
After having some questions answered Mowder said he believed the commission could reconvene and come to a decision.
“We weren’t wanting to give an answer yes or no and then have it cause problems,” Mowder said.
However, reconvening the meeting was not the option that the conditional use permit applicant, Brian Ledbetter, had in mind.
Ledbetter told the council that he had already spent money on signs, notifications and publication for the public hearing that was held last Wednesday May 16.
“If it were up to me I would settle it right now,” Mayor Mike Paavola said.
“We apologize,” Paavola added with a laugh of disbelief. “ I can’t believe this!”
Mowder said the commission was also confused because only four members were present and they were not sure what to do if there was a split vote.
Many neighbors and those concerned were in attendance at the city coucil meeting and wanted to speak. However, Hayes told the council they cannot hear testimony on an issue that is not yet before them.
Ledbetter took issue with Hayes’ comment and said having a fifth member vote on an issue they have not heard would not be fair.
“If there’s a new member that comes in I surely don’t want his opinion on something he hasn’t heard,” Ledbetter said.
Councilwoman Emily Malsbury asked if they could exclude the member that was absent. Councilman John Norman told her that a voting member cannot be excluded.
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