Paso council to quiz planning candidates

Six people are vying for two seats for one of Paso Robles’ top leadership boards tonight. Interviews for the city’s Planning Commission will be conducted in the public meeting with the City Council.

Each council member is then slated to make his top three picks, discuss and then appoint the chosen tonight.

Chairman Chuck Treatch is seeking reappointment, and longtime commissioner Ron Johnson is stepping down.

“It’s just that time,” said Johnson, who has served on the commission for 21 years. “There’s no hidden issue about it. I’m not unhappy, not mad. It’s just my time to quietly fade away.”

The candidates for the three-year, voluntary terms that begin in January include Treatch; Ralph Latino, a former university administrator; Christian Iversen, an attorney; Christie Withers, a former Paso Robles Planning commissioner from 2006 to 2009; Jeri Corgill, with administrative services in the city of Atascadero; and Vince Vanderlip, a general contractor.

All live in Paso Robles, according to their applications; some are lifetime residents.

Once the new board is appointed, its members will vote in January for a chair and vice chair, officials said. Those roles each carry a one-year term.

The seven-member commission is the final step before the City Council on many projects. It makes recommendations regarding proposed plans to the council after hearing from the public and applicants twice a month.

“We actually play an important part in the public process,” Commissioner Gary Nemeth said. “People can come to us first with their questions and concerns, and city staff have that two extra weeks to look into it before it goes to the Council.”

The commission has the final decision-making power on some items, such as subdivisions, conditional use permits and planned developments.

In August, for example, it had the final say to approve the design to change a high-tech business park into a winery development.

Smaller decisions include approving or denying placement of cellular towers or allowing a developer to grade lots he planned to subdivide.

In mid-January, the commission will also get first crack at the information ad-hoc committees have been researching since the early fall on how to prioritize the Uptown/Town Centre Specific Plan — a $1.5 million, five-chapter document written by consultants that proposes new ideas on how the city should look and function. Paid for by the city’s Redevelopment Fund, the plan also describes specific projects such as better connecting parts of the town and developing along the Salinas River.

Meeting tonight

The Planning Commission interviews will be open to the public and are set for 7 p.m. tonight at the Paso Robles City Hall/Library Conference Center, 1000 Spring St.