For six members of the Mobile Planning Commission, July 17 was their last meeting on the board, as the chairman, vice chairman, secretary and three board members will be replaced.
Chairman Terry Plauche, Secretary Victoria Rivizziagno, Roosevelt Turner, Tracie Lee-Roberson and Scott Webster were told they’d be replaced. Vice-Chairman Bill DeMouy Jr., will also be replaced, but he is retiring from the city.
The new members to the board include Shayla Beaco, Nick Amberger, Jennifer Denson, Elizabeth Latham and Allan Cameron. This leaves one vacancy on the board, which Stimpson said he would announce at a later date.
Planning Commission Attorney Doug Anderson said all the commissioners being replaced had been appointed by prior mayors and most were serving expired terms.
“It wasn’t like people being fired on the spot,” Anderson said. “They were all notified they were coming off the board.”
Anderson said the move was simply because Stimpson wanted his own people on the board, a point Stimpson confirmed during a press conference Friday. He said the move was about making a change.
“Looking at boards and commissions in the city, there hasn’t been much change in the last 15 to 20 years,” Stimpson said. “We have a direction we wanted to go in.”
Stimpson said his administration had looked at making Planning Commission appointments early on, but decided to make at that time because of upcoming critical decisions the board would have to make. He finally decided to “pull the trigger” this week.
Plauche, who had served on the Planning Commission since 1999, said he received a letter from Stimpson Tuesday thanking for his service on the board. He added that he and two other commissioners knew their fates, but three others didn’t find out until right before Thursday’s meeting.
“I think it was just an oversight by the mayor’s office,” Plauche said. “He had a staff member there to apologize and tell them they were no longer needed. Plauche, whose most recent six-year term expired in October, said in the past the reappointments were automatic, if a member wanted to stay on the board.
“Each mayor is different,” he said. “Most of the time they would ask you if wanted to be on it.”
Plauche said while there were no hard feelings toward the mayor’s decision, he was concerned about balance on the board between those who are development-oriented to those more concerned with green space and trees. He said the previous board had a good balance of these types of people, which help it make better decisions.
“The (Stimpson appointments) so far are more on the development side,” Plauche said. “If it’s weighted to one side or the other it’s not good.”
Stimpson, who still has one appointment left, said the commission would have a good balance. He also said the recent decision had nothing to with the board’s approval of the Blue Creek Coal Terminal by a 4-2 vote, in which half the members abstained. Five of the six members who abstained from the vote are part of the group exiting the board.
Anderson said new officers would be selected during the meeting next month.