North Branch seeking applicants for new planning commission

One of the first actions of the new North Branch City Council in January was to disband the city’s planning commission so it could “reorganize the process and guidelines to ensure the city provides a professional approach for the future of the city,” according to a release from the city at the time.
Since then, council and staff have worked together to ascertain what they want out of a new planning commission — an advisory body to the council that reviews agenda items and gives recommendations prior to regular council meetings.
At the June 13 meeting, the council approved the ordinance creating the city’s new planning agency, and at the June 27 meeting, the council approved the timeline for soliciting new applicants and how those people would apply.
The timeline is as follows:
• Applications will be solicited July 1-31 (applications due by 4:30 p.m. July 31).
• Applications will be reviewed at the Aug. 3 City Council work session.
• Applicants will be appointed at the Aug. 8 regular City Council meeting.
• Applicant training will be offered sometime Aug. 14-25.
• First regular planning commission meeting is Sept. 5.
Council Member Robert Canada, the only member of the council to vote against the timeline (Council Member Jim Swenson was absent), asked City Administrator Renae Fry how the application forms would be available to the public.
Fry said the form will be PDF document that can be emailed to interested applicants. They can print it out, fill it out by hand and mail it back, or they fill it out on their computers and email it to the city. Mayor Kirsten Hagen-Kennedy suggested the form also be available for download off the city’s website.
Canada was concerned there wasn’t enough space on the one-page application form for candidates to write about their experience, so the council members agreed to allow applicants to attach one sheet to the form for additional comments, if they so choose.

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