LEETONIA Officials: Panel benefits village

Attending other planning commission meetings and revising zoning ordinances are among the panel's first duties.
LEETONIA -- Village officials believe the newly formed planning commission will help lessen the town's growing pains.
"I think a planning commission is very important for the village right now," said Mayor Artie Altomare. "There's a lot happening here, and there will be annexation and zoning and infrastructure questions.
"We all need to work together," he said. "We don't want to do something and then have to backtrack because we did it wrong."
Altomare and Gary Phillips, village manager, said the village had a planning commission decades ago, but the group was never very active.
Getting started
The new panel met for the first time recently, with resident Mark Gardner, former county development director, chairing the volunteers.
Gardner said the planning commission will take the first several meetings to organize and begin to study the village's zoning ordinances.
He said the ordinances need revised, and that will be one of the panel's first duties. The group also plans to attend planning commissions in surrounding communities to see how they operate, he said.
"I told them that with a group of volunteers meeting once a month, it may take two or three years for us to be at full speed and really have an impact," Gardner said.
He presented the panel with about 40 pages of notes on various techniques of planning, and zoning officer Scott Garlough and Phillips provided maps and zoning information.
"The process for planning is that you decide where you are, where you want to go and how you're going to get there," Gardner said. "Then you evaluate what you've done."
He said the planning commission will benefit the village because planning saves time and money.
"Planning will help you save steps," he said. "In the long run, it's cheaper to plan than to react to a crisis."
Gardner will serve a two-year term. Other planning commission members are Altomare, Councilman Steve Clunen and residents Dave Tingle and Richard Hendricks.
Hendricks will serve a four-year term, and Tingle will serve a six-year term. Clunen's term will be concurrent with his council term, which ends in December 2003.
The planning commission will meet at 7:30 p.m. the fourth Tuesday of each month.
Village Administrator Gary Phillips said he will attend the meetings to serve in an advisory capacity.
"This is a good group of people who want to volunteer their time to help the village," Phillips said. "It will take them a few months to get organized, but I'm sure they will make a difference quickly."
Phillips said the panel will work with the council and Garlough on planning village growth. Developers will bring plans to the planning commission, and the panel will make recommendations to the developers and to the council, he said.

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