Lawrence Mayor Shirley Martin-Smith and Commissioner Bob Schumm collided today over Schumm's appearance Wednesday at a city-county planning board meeting.
Martin-Smith said Schumm showed a "total lack of respect" for the commission by appearing before the planners. Schumm said he merely was helping accommodate planners in an unusual situation.
Schumm's comments Wednesday came as the planners were deciding whether they should defer reconsideration of a rezoning request for the Rock Chalk Ranch property near Sixth and Wakarusa.
The planning commission, which originally recommended rezoning the property to PCD-2 (planned commercial development), was forced to reconsider the request after the city commission denied the rezoning. Under Kansas law, if a planning commission doesn't act within 10 days after receiving the city commission's denial, the city commission can take final action.
PLANNERS were concerned that if they deferred the rezoning, which was requested by owners of the land, they would lose their chance to make additional comments on the rezoning application.
Schumm, who attended the meeting along with City Commissioner Bob Walters, told the planners he didn't think the commission would act without first giving the planners a chance to comment.
"I, personally, do not have a problem deferring this thing for a month," he said. "I can't speak for the commission, but this isn't something that we have to act on immediately."
After Schumm's comments, the planners voted to defer the matter.
Martin-Smith said Schumm's action was in direct opposition to a commission rule developed in April. Although no formal vote was taken on the matter, a majority of commissioners at that time said it was inappropriate for indidividual city commissioners to appear before the planning commission. Schumm had generated the discussion about appearances before planners.
"I PICKED UP the newspaper last night and read that Commissioner Schumm spoke before the planning commission, and I was stunned," Martin-Smith said in an interview today. "He totally disregarded the wishes of the commission, and I think he showed a total lack of respect for the commission."
Schumm, who favored the ban on commissioners' appearances before the planning commission, said Martin-Smith misunderstood both the April conversation and the situation at Wednesday's meeting.
He said the city commission's discussion of inappropriate appearances before the planners was directed at pressing an individual position on a planning or zoning matter.
"I don't think I said anything materially there that would cause any kinds of problems whatsoever," Schumm said. "I was doing it merely as a convenience for the planning commission to feel like they would have the right to comment at a later date."
ALTHOUGH Walters said he would not have spoken to the planners, he did not take issue with Schumm for his comments.
"As to whether or not it was appropriate, that's something each individual commissioner has to determine for yourself," Walters said. "Bob did not appear to present anything on the matter at hand."
Martin-Smith said she did not know how the commission should deal with cases involving commissioners disregarding the panel's rules, but she said she intends to discuss Schumm's actions at the next meeting of the commission, Aug. 7.
Walters said such a discussion could firm up a commission policy.
"If we didn't vote on it, then it really doesn't represent policy. These are, however, some of the things we need to sit down and talk about," he said.