The Westfield City Council approved an amendment during its Feb. 22 meeting to a 2008 ordinance that now allows the council president to also serve on the advisory plan commission.
The amended ordinance, which passed by a 6-1 vote, first appeared on the agenda during the Feb. 8 meeting, but council member Scott Willis voted against suspending the rules to approve the ordinance on first reading. The council must vote unanimously in order to suspend the rules, so the matter was pushed to the Feb. 22 meeting.
Willis cast the only not vote against the amendment.
At the Feb. 8 meeting, Willis expressed concern that the ordinance was put in place to ensure a balance of power and amending it could cause future issues. But he didn’t express his thoughts on the matter during the Feb. 22 meeting.
Council member Jake Gilbert, however, voiced his support for the amendment before casting a yes vote.
“I talked to a few former councilors and I talked to the mayor about the history of this because the original ordinance we are replacing is an old ordinance,” Gilbert said. “So, I can understand it put in place concerns about separation of power and things like that, but I didn’t find great consensus of that. I think it behooves us to do what’s best for our city right now, and it would be up to us if we felt it was inappropriate for a person (to serve on the APC). We have to be able to serve in multiple capacities, but I think that’s on us as a council.
“So, I’m in support of that and wanted to share with the public that there’s not a consensus on why the ordinance we are replacing really was there.”
The amendment also allows the APC president to serve on the board of zoning appeals. After approving the amendment, the council voted 6-1 to approve council President Mike Johns’ appointment to the advisory plan commission. Willis voted against the appointment.