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Sometimes everyone can be a little bit right even if they have opposite views of a particular situation. We think that was true at the May meeting of the New Albany Planning and Zoning Commission.
Planning and Zoning Chairman Walter Harrison said that the seven-member board did not have a quorum because three vacancies existed on the board and he understood that he was a non-voting member.
Therefore the board did not meet and the rezoning request of Booker Farr for land at 1305 Munsford Drive was postponed until next Thursday. Three vacancies existed on the board because Frank Madden had resigned and replacements also had not been named to fill vacancies created by the deaths of Charlie McKenzie and Hershell Pannell.
New Albany City Attorney Bobby Carter later said that a quorum was present and that the commission should have held the hearing.
“I did want to make sure that the public understands that, while he (Harrison) was well intentioned, he misinterpreted the New Albany code.”
Carter cited an opinion from the Mississippi Attorney General in 1992 that stated that a quorum consists of the majority of a board membership. The opinion stated that there is no provision for what constitutes a quorum of the planning commission, but that common law dictates that a majority would make up a quorum.
Carter said that “according to the law, then, if there were vacancies, the chairman’s role would change and he would become a voting member. That’s the position that the city is taking and that’s the way we will operated in the future, should a similar situation occur.”
We don’t doubt that Mr. Carter’s view is correct. However, this zoning issue has been so contentious and gone on so long that we think it is better considered by a full commission of seven members.
With the appointment of Vernell Kimmons, Herbert Kidd and Mark Garrett to the commission by the New Albany Board of Alderman, that issue is resolved.
Now the commission should go ahead and deal with the rezoning issue on its merits.