NB council approves members for new planning commission

One of the first actions of the North Branch City Council when new members took office in January was to disband the city’s planning commission.
At the council’s Aug. 8 meeting, that commission was reinstituted with five new members.
Those new commissioners are Gary Schaefer, 1-year term; Laurie Warner, 2-year term; MacKenzie Guptil, 3-year term, Joel McPherson, 4-year term; Brian Voss, 4-year term.
The previous members were John von Lange, Jeffrey Bannister, Tom Borchardt, Don Swanson and Brian Belfield.
A press release from the city at the time of the January disbandment noted the action was done with the intent to “reorganize the process and guidelines to ensure the city provides a professional approach for the future of the city.”
Robert Canada was the only council member to vote against the new appointments. He said he wanted to hear from fellow council member Kelly Neider, since she was not at the workshop meeting at which the candidates were considered.
“When we have something as important as this, we need to have full council involvement,” he said.
Canada also noted he made suggestions for appointments that were ultimately not accepted by the council.
“We should have some friendly debate on why we had the picks that we did,” Canada said. “I didn’t say very much, because I was the minority. I felt like the ones that I chose were just as qualified, if not more. What is the rush in this process? I get the feeling like it’s a cloak and dagger process, and it shouldn’t be.”
Mayor Kirsten Hagen-Kennedy said there was a thorough conversation on all of the applicants.
“We did have a good discussion of it,” she said. “There was not an agreement on all of them. It took a while to get the number.”
North Branch City Administrator Renae Fry noted the only planning commission applicant that all four council members present for the workshop agreed upon was McPherson.

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