The appointment of a former Fayette County commissioner to the Area Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals has come under fire by at least one person who disagrees with her position in favor of having wind turbines.
The Board of Commissioners on Tuesday appointed Leota King to the APC, replacing a member who chose not to be reappointed. The position also represents the APC on the Board of Zoning Appeals.
The law governing the APC requires that one county commissioner serve on it. King, who did not seek re-election as a commissioner in 2018, had represented the Board of Commissioners on the APC. On Tuesday, the commissioners appointed Gary Naylor, the president of the commissioners, to fill that position.
Two citizen appointments to the APC also were open. The commissioners appointed King to that post, along with Bill Macke, the new county surveyor.
Craig Mosburg, one of several county residents who oppose construction of a wind energy project in northwestern Fayette County, took to email to express his displeasure over King’s appointment. He wrote that she has expressed strong approval for the wind project and so that might be a conflict of interest in serving on the APC and BZA.
Mosburg has asked for a place on the next commissioners’ meeting agenda.
He wrote, “Unless we get an answer on the procedure for picking the APC/ABZ citizen opening, WE, … would like a spot on the next agenda to ask the commissioners on LIVE TV3 so they can explain to the county what the process is for job placement on a county board.
“No emails. No phone calls. No interview. Not asking about our experience. Not informing the interested parties that the job was a dual position. No contact for the other applicants, for locating a NON-POLITICAL position. So they pick ex-commissioner and retired Leota King.”
Those boards may have to vote on parts of the West Fork Wind project, which includes up to 52 sites.
Contacted on Saturday, two county commissioners, Dale Strong and Mark Nobbe, said they approved King for the position because they think she is the best qualified of those who had expressed interest in it. The Connersville News-Examiner was unable to speak with Naylor.
Citizens had been given two weeks to express their interest and the commissioners made their choices Tuesday. Strong said that as far as he knew, no one had been interviewed for any of the appointments the commissioners made.
Nobbe said he thinks King is a good choice. “This is the way I see it. You gotta have a little experience to do it right, and she knows it. If there ever was a conflict of interest, I would hope she would step aside for that vote.”
He also expressed his willingness to reconsider the appointment if many people think it wrong.
Strong said King had expressed her desire to continue serving on the APC before she stepped down as a commissioner. He believes her past experience on the APC and in other positions in the community will make her a good member.
King said she had asked to be considered for the APC appointment.
“I had told them (the commissioners) I would be willing to serve in that position,” she said. “I’ve been there.”
Nobbe said three other people who said they would be willing to serve on the APC are anti-wind voices.
Strong said he had a phone conversation with one man who said he’d be willing to serve.
King makes no bones about being in favor of wind power development.
“I’m not being backwards of being two-faced,” she said of her position.
She and other officials from Fayette County visited wind farms and county government officials in Benton and White counties, northwest of Lafayette, to find out for themselves about how they look and the tax revenue generated from land with wind towers.
“I’ve seen the windmills and I don’t think they’re ugly,” she said.
Here is a list of citizen appointments made Tuesday by the Fayette County Board of Commissioners. Reappointments and positions which require a county commissioner are not listed.
Area Plan Commission: Bill Macke, Leota King.
Board of Zoning Appeals: Leota King.
Fayette County Board of Health: Dr. Tom Christie.
Fayette County Cemetery Commission: Jay McAtee.
Everton Regional Sewer Board: Debbie Kidd.
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