Sunset Hills overhauls Planning Commission

The city of Sunset Hills campus: Sunset Hills Police Department

The city of Sunset Hills campus: Sunset Hills Police Department

By Erin Achenbach, Staff Reporter

The Sunset Hills Board of Aldermen overhauled the Planning and Zoning Commission last month in an unusual competitive vote for a city committee.

Current Planning and Zoning member Steve Young and former longtime Police Advisory Board President Frank Pellegrini were both unanimously appointed to represent Ward 3 on the planning panel, in a four-way race with current members Thomas Ortmann and Bill Hopfinger. The new members’ terms expire April 1, 2021. Ward 3 Alderman Kurt Krueger was absent.

Former Ward 1 Alderman Richard Gau, who was the president of the Board of Aldermen when he stepped down last April, was appointed 6-1 to be one of two Ward 1 representatives on the panel, with his successor, Ward 1 Alderman Ann McMunn, dissenting on the vote.

McMunn explained that the reason she voted against Gau’s appointment to the board was not based on his ability to serve in that position, but rather that she was unsure if it would be a conflict of interest if he served on the Planning and Zoning Commission while already holding a role as an alternate on the Board of Zoning Adjustment.

The appointment process for the second Ward 1 representative was stalled when the board could not reach a majority vote between current members John Martin and Todd Powers.

“Each and every one one of these individuals are incredibly qualified, and it’s a shame that there’s more people than there are spots because everyone I see is a person who would do well,” said Ward 4 Alderman Mark Colombo.

Ward 2 Alderman Steve Bersche suggested tabling the decision until the Feb. 12 Board of Aldermen meeting to talk with the candidates to see if one would be willing to serve as an alternate on the Board of Adjustment. Gau was an alternate on the Board of Adjustment until his appointment to the planning panel made him ineligible.

Other appointments were less eventful. Mark Naesfrom of Ward 3 and William Groth from Ward 4 were both reappointed to five-year terms on the Board of Adjustment with a 7-0 vote.

Ten residents were also unanimously appointed to the Parks and Recreation Board for terms ending Jan. 1, 2022. Former Ward 1 Alderman Doug McGuire and Blake Harris were appointed to represent Ward 1, Bersche and Jill Yarasheski will represent Ward 2, Esther Gier and Pam Livingston will represent Ward 3, Laurie Taylor and Laurie Zeitler will represent Ward 4 and Caiti Lipe and Kelly Finney will be representatives at large. Lipe is the wife of Ward 3 Alderman Nathan Lipe.