Open seat on Buncombe County Planning Board

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners will interview applicants for an additional open seat on the county Planning Board — the one currently occupied by landscape architect Jay Marino representing the city of Asheville school district.

Clerk to the Board Kathy Hughes confirmed today that the seat would be open and that the board would be interviewing applicants.

“I’m sending out the e-mails right now,” Hughes said.

The process for recruiting new Planning Board members became a topic of controversy when nine applicants were disqualified because of an unwritten rule requiring that all school districts be represented. At the time, only applicants from the four districts representing members of the board that are stepping down — Erwin, Enka, Owen and Roberson — were open. Activists also criticized both the current makeup of the board and the remaining applicants as being too heavily tilted towards development interests.

However, after the Sept. 2 Board of Commissioners meeting where the criticisms arose, activists called Hughes’ attention to the fact that Marino has also served the maximum two three-year terms and was thus also up for replacement.

Hughes said that the commissioners would not be taking new applications for the position, but instead interviewing four that had applied earlier but were initially disqualified: Joe Sechler, co-founder and former president of the Friends of Town Mountain; Stephen Lending, an attorney; green engineer/landscape architect Tony Hauser; and green builder Richard Soderquist.

The commissioners will interview applicants for Marino’s seat starting at 2:30 p.m. before their Oct. 7 meeting.

— David Forbes

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