Though it was voted down, a planning commissioner’s attempt to address the appearance of his fellow members triggered heated discussion Tuesday night.
Forsyth County Attorney Ken Jarrard presented the proposed addition, as well as others proposed by Joe Moses, during the group’s work session.
Planning Commissioner Matt Murphy did not attend the meeting.
In September, the board had discussed streamlining its bylaws and removing items addressed elsewhere, such as in the county’s unified development code. Moses, however, was not at that meeting.
Jarrard was asked to draft the revisions, which he presented to the board Tuesday night.
He also went over a draft showing the changes Moses had suggested, which address rules of conduct, decorum, participation, attire and censure.
One alteration suggested that board members “shall aspire to present a professional image and to that end shall strive to wear business casual attire to all regular meetings and public hearings. No member shall be precluded from participating in a meeting due to attire.”
Chairwoman Pam Livesay took issue with the proposal.
“I just think we’re all adults and I don’t think that that needs to be there,” Livesay said. “And I certainly wouldn’t want to preclude anybody being on this board that a commissioner may appoint that may not be able to afford attire that maybe some other people think is up to their liking. I don’t think that’s our job.”
She also noted that in her 15 years on the panel, attire has never caused an issue.
During that time, she added, there have been members who did not work in office professions and showed up for meetings in work clothes.
Jarrard pointed out that the suggestion is not legally problematic and is only aspirational.
Moses said he thinks the way members dress reflects on the board as a whole and that the proposal is an attempt to present a “professional image.”
He also said new members who arrive at the last minute should tell the commissioners who appointed them that they don’t have time to devote to doing a thorough job.
“Rushing in at the last second is indicative of really not having enough time to give the board and the citizens of this county due consideration,” Moses said. “This is a good point and, as our counsel has said, it’s an aspiration.”
Moses said he likes the way Planning Commissioner Jim Kelleher, who was wearing a suit, dresses for their meetings.
Their colleague Pam Bowman asked what the point of the proposal was if a fellow member who violated it wouldn’t be precluded from participating. She added that the proposal was “silly.”
The board agreed 3-1, with Moses dissenting, to strike the recommendation about attire from the list of proposed changes to the bylaws.
The board also agreed to direct Jarrard to come back next month with the revised proposal.