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City demands seven seats on 2050 panel, but county overrides
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The idea was for a 13-member citizens’ panel to focus on the details of the 2050 Plan’s minimum lot sizes and the proposed “transferrable development rights.” But things are in flux.

The Covington City Council rqquested Monday to request representation on the board equal to that of the county commissioners. But the county quashed that idea Tuesday, unanimously deciding to leave the number of members on the panel at 13. The city’s idea to appoint one panel member per councilman would have pushed that number to 20.

The city has paid as much for the plan as the county - $50,000 per year – so the city would like the same representation on the panel, city officials agreed.

Under the plan proposed by the plan’s Leadership Coalition, the panel is to be made up of one member appointed by each commissioner, one by each municipality, one by the school board and one by the sewer and water authority. County officials on Tuesday decided to leave it that way.

Mayor Ronnie Johnston on Monday asked for nominations for the city’s panel nominee. Keith Dalton nominated Buddy Morgan.

And then things changed. Councilman Chris Smith pointed out that the city has matched the county in paying for the plan, and the makeup of the board was clearly skewed to the county’s benefit.

“To me, personally, I think one (appointment) is not right,” Smith said. “I think we should have equal representation.”

Councilwoman Hawnethia Williams agreed: “There are very few times we see the same way (as the commissioners) based on who we are and who we represent.” She said a single Covington appointee could be easily “overwhelmed” by six from the county.

Johnston said the city will certainly be affected by the 2050 Plan, as it’s destined to contain much of the TDR “receivers”; in other words, the land development rights unusable in the eastern half of the county can be sold by landowners there to increase density in the city.

That bit of the TDR concept has not been much discussed, Johnston said, but it should be.

“I’d be happy to call them (the county) and say the city’s position is ‘no panel without six members, maybe seven,” he said. “This (plan) is no small thing. This is a big deal.”

The council agreed with the higher number, seven, with one panel member appointed by each council member and one by the mayor.

Johnston acknowledged that the county might simply decide to move on with the panel with Covington’s input. But Covington retains the right to completely opt out of the 2050 Plan, he added.

County Commission Chairman Keith Ellis on Tuesday said a 20-member panel as proposed by the city would be too large to do get anything done.