Danedri Thompson
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A divided council approved the appointments of Heath Freeman and Adrianna Meder to the Gardner Planning Commission during a May 18 meeting.
Mayor Chris Morrow said after publishing two commission openings, four people applied for the job. Morrow also asked applicants who had applied for other planning commission openings over the past year, if they wished to be reconsidered.
Morrow, council member Steve Shute, planning commissioner Brett Limer and city administrator Cheryl Harrison-Lee interviewed five candidates for the two positions.
The planning commission serves as a board of community standards of sort. The seven member body makes zoning, plat and long-range land use recommendations to the city council.
City council member Rich Melton asked why applicant Bruce Hughes was overlooked.
“Bruce worked in construction in Iowa and for the census and does demographics specs,” Melton said. “My question would be why wasn’t he one of those people who might have been sent forward.”
Morrow said experience, like the interviews, was taken into consideration when he made his recommendation of Freeman and Meder.
Meder is the current chair of the planning commission, and Freeman is a former city council member.
“To me, it seems like a real loss for the city,” Melton said. “(Bruce has) been passed over twice now. No offense to the other candidates, they don’t have anything close to the experience level as that. To me, it shouldn’t be about putting our friends in places. We should have the most qualified people.”
Morrow said he didn’t want to debate it now that appointments have been brought forward.
“None of this had anything to do with friendship,” Morrow said. “I can assure you of that.”
Three of five council members voted to approve the appointments of Freeman and Meder. Council members Melton and Lee Moore opposed the appointments.