Vote to fill P&Z vacancy postponed

Council to fill two vacancies at Aug. 12 meeting

Applicant names not available to public yet

MANDEVILLE — A vote to fill a vacancy on the Planning & Zoning Commission was delayed by the City Council at its July 22nd meeting after District II Councilman Skelly Kreller made a motion to defer, saying that he’d rather wait until District III Councilwoman Jill McGuire returned from having a medical procedure which caused her to miss that meeting.

The motion to defer carried 4-0 but not before a question was raised concerning the scheduled vote: the list of applicants had not been made available to the public.

This means the City Council was set to fill a Planning & Zoning vacancy from a list of applicants that only the City Council members themselves and the administration had seen.

Local attorney and Former District III Councilman Ernest Burguières asked the council for the list of applicants or their resumes during the public comment period, but City Attorney Elizabeth Sconzert said members of the public would have to file a public records request to receive the information.

Sconzert indicated that this delay was so that the resumes could go through the city’s legal department to allow information not required to be released to be redacted.

It remains unclear why this process was not done in advance of the July 22nd meeting, considering a vote was scheduled on the matter.

In previous years when filling Planning & Zoning vacancies, complete resumes were made available; however, this practice had drawn criticism because it went beyond the scope of what the law requires.

Councilman At Large Rick Danielson — the outgoing Council Chairman — said the council wants to improve the Planning & Zoning appointment process from previous years. “This was one of the items we wanted to address so that we can develop a good process going forward,” he said.

In her exchange with Burguières, Sconzert said she didn’t see a problem with the information being released before the August 12th council meeting when the council is expected to fill two vacancies on the Planning & Zoning Commission.

The Louisiana Public Records Law (R.S. 44:1 – R.S. 44:41) says only the names of the people who apply for such positions “with policymaking duties” along with “related qualifications, relevant employment history or experience” are public record, not necessarily their complete resumes.

Excerpt from Louisiana Public Records Law (R.S. 44:1 - R.S. 44:41)
Excerpt from Louisiana Public Records Law (R.S. 44:1 – R.S. 44:41)

The Louisiana Open Meetings Law (R.S. 42:11 – R.S. 42:28) says meeting agenda items must be “described with reasonable specificity.”

Excerpt from Louisiana Open Meetings Law (R.S. 42:11 - R.S. 42:28)
Excerpt from Louisiana Open Meetings Law (R.S. 42:11 – R.S. 42:28)

The information provided on the agenda for the appointment read: “Appointment of Commissioner to the Planning & Zoning Commission for a four-year term.”

Mandeville Daily has filed a public records request with the City of Mandeville for the names of the applicants and related information as it pertains to R.S. 44:1.


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