South County real estate agent gets planning nomination

South County real estate agent Tim Murphy, who has a deep background in agriculture, has been nominated to the county Planning Commission.

Murphy’s nomination by new South County Supervisor Paul Teixeira will fill out the five-member board, which lost three members in the past month. The Board of Supervisors will vote on the appointment Tuesday.

The Planning Commission is key to reviewing new development, as well as creating the county’s strategic outlook for where growth should occur and how.

Both Anne Wyatt, who represented the North Coast, and Bruce White, who represented North County, resigned from the panel in December. Gene Mehlschau, who represented South County, also left, after the man who appointed him, Katcho Achadjian, was elected to the state Assembly.

Cal Poly professor Ken Topping replaced Wyatt, and North County rancher and real estate agent Jim Irving replaced White. With Irving and Murphy on the commission, real estate interests would have two strong voices, a change from recent years when environmentalists were thought to hold sway.

Teixeira has said that he wanted someone who could speak for agriculture to replace Mehlschau, and Murphy’s résumé shows that he fills that requirement.

Murphy has been an administrator with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and president and chairman of the board of Apio Inc., a packer and shipper of fresh vegetables and strawberries, among other long-term agricultural involvements. Murphy also has been on the board of directors of the Western Growers Association.

His other community activities include serving on the board of the Boys & Girls Club of the Santa Maria Valley and membership in the Santa Maria Elks Lodge.

The newly constituted Planning Commission will meet Jan. 13, at which time members will deal with a proposal to convert a barn into a winery north of Paso Robles, among other planning issues.

Returning commissioners are Carlyn Christianson and Dan O’Grady.