Mayor swears in Nelson planning board members
by Kristal Dixon
kdixon@cherokeetribune.com
February 08, 2011 09:40 PM | 2510 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lamar Kellett, left, takes his oath of office from Nelson Mayor David Leister for the Nelson Planning and Zoning Commission during the Nelson City Council’s meeting on Monday. The commission has been unable to meet since November because Leister had refused to swear them into office.<br>Cherokee Tribune/Kristal Dixon
Lamar Kellett, left, takes his oath of office from Nelson Mayor David Leister for the Nelson Planning and Zoning Commission during the Nelson City Council’s meeting on Monday. The commission has been unable to meet since November because Leister had refused to swear them into office.
Cherokee Tribune/Kristal Dixon
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A standoff between Nelson's mayor and the city's planning and zoning commission has come to an end.

Mayor David Leister swore in planning commission members Lamar Kellett and Jim Blankenship on Monday night during the Nelson City Council's meeting.

Members Mike Haviland and Gary Cochran were unable to attend the meeting to be sworn into office. One seat also remains vacant, as the council has yet to name a replacement for Martha Tipton, who was elected to the council in September to fill the unexpired term of her late father, Jim Ingram.

Leister had delayed the swearing-in since November because of his differences with the commission, which he accused of not wanting to work with him.

Kellett, who last year served as the commission chairman, said he was "pleased" to finally be able to return to his appointed seat.

Kellett added that Cochran and Haviland could be sworn in as early as this week, and the commission will likely meet next Tuesday or Feb. 17.

Leister's feud with the commission stems from him not being invited to attend its meeting to talk about ways to bring more recreational opportunities to the city, which the council last year tasked the commission with doing.

In January, the council approved operating guidelines for the planning commission, which spell out who its members answer to - the council - and the types of meetings they will hold.

Leister said he "still has concerns about the wording" of the guidelines, but he was willing to swear in the members.

"I really feel the council needs more input, not just me," he said of being informed of the planning commission's work.

As mayor, the city charter grants Leister the role of ex-officio of the commission. The ex-officio status, according to Leister, should automatically make him a member of the commission and entitle him to receive regular reports of its business.

Councilman Paul Feldman sees it differently.

"The mayor is really not a member of the commission," he said, citing the charter stipulates no member of a board, committee or authority shall hold elective office in the city.

Feldman, who served as a mediator during the feud, noted he hoped the city government could return to a sense of normalcy after the strife that's held the commission up from attending to its duties.

"It hasn't been an easy road to get here," he said of Monday night's swearing-in ceremonies. "We've learned to work together a little bit better, and it's going to help the city as we move forward."

Kellett and Blankenship agreed, noting they have no issues with the mayor and are ready to move forward.

"We were just ready to get some things done," Blankenship added of the commission's anxiousness to hold meetings.

The Nelson City Council on Monday night considered the following agenda items:

* Heard the audit report of fiscal year 2010, which stated the city was in good financial condition;

* Tabled until March 7 consideration of adopting the Pickens County Animal Control ordinance;

* Mayor David Leister gave the oaths of office to Nelson Planning and Zoning Commission members Jim Blankenship and Lamar Kellett;

* Adopted the Cherokee County Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan; and

Councilman Larry Sellers and Councilwoman Martha Tipton were not present.

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