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Matthews Appointed To Shawnee City Commission

 

August 20, 2020

The Shawnee City Commission voted unanimously to appoint Daniel Matthews to fill the vacant Ward 1 seat on Monday night, after a lengthy meeting touching on a wide variety of business.

The Ward 1 seat was made vacant when Mayor Ed Bolt was elected, and he moved into the mayor's seat. The City Commission chose Mathews for the position after conducting interviews at its last meeting.

In addition to making this appointment, the commission heard presentations from the city treasurer and the Blue Zones organization.

City Treasurer Ashley Neel presented the July 2020 budget update and Rachael Melot, who officially resigned from the planning commission during the same meeting, offered the Blue Zones Project Certification Community Data Report. For more information on Melot's presentation, see the "Blue Zones" story.

While the commissioners appointed a new member to the Ward 1 seat, they also voted unanimously to call a special election to grant One Gas Inc. a non-exclusive franchise for 25 years. Commissioner Bob Weaver asked city staff if this election could be used to piggyback an election for the Ward 1 seat, without additional expense to the city.

However, City Manager Chance Allison explained that the Jan. 12 election that the One Gas Inc. question would be on is a proposition only election, and couldn't be used to hold elections for the Ward 1 seat.

The commissioners also engaged in a lengthy discussion surrounding a proposed rezoning, which was opposed by a number of property owners near the property in question. The proposed rezoning near East 39th St. and Harrison Ave. would change the area from a rural agriculture district, to a planned unit development.

The rezoning was opposed by two separate petitions, requesting that the area be rezoned only as R-1, or lowest density residential. Several members of the community spoke during the public hearing on the issue, voicing fears that higher density housing would lower property values and cause issues in the surrounding area.

Rebecca Blaine, planning and development director for the city, said Shawnee needs to develop a wider variety of housing options, and that the city has a high proportion of single family homes. She said a variety of housing choices are needed to accommodate people at different stages in their lives. Additionally, she said different housing options can help accommodate employers looking to move in to the area.

"Being able to say 'We do have rooftops, we do have options for your employees in Shawnee,' that has a lot of value," Blaine said.

Blaine provided documents breaking down Shawnee's land use by acre. Single family residential is listed with 5839 acres, while multi-family residential has only 106 acres.

The city commission voted 6-0 to reject the proposed rezoning, and advised the developer that he would need to return to the planning commission.

Just before turning to the Ward 1 appointment, the commissioners entered a lengthy executive session to discuss the annual evaluation of the city manager. When they returned, the commission voted 5-1 in favor of giving Allison a 2.5% pay increase on his one year anniversary date. Weaver was the only commissioner to vote in opposition to the proposal.

The meeting ended with the appointment and swearing in of Daniel Matthews, the new Ward 1 city commissioner. Matthews was appointed by a 6-0 vote, even though Weaver initially nominated Rex Hennen for the job.

Once seated in his new spot at the commissioner's table, Matthews said he hopes to make Shawnee a better place for everyone.

"I look forward to this opportunity to make sure everyone has a voice, and is heard," Matthews said.

Following the meeting, Vice Mayor Darren Rutherford offered his thoughts on Matthews' appointment.

"We had all very good, qualified applicants," Rutherford said. "There would have been no bad choices. Daniel Matthews has proven himself on the planning commission, and is what made my decision."

Rutherford said he would encourage the other candidates to seek positions on any of the city's committees which currently have open seats.

He said the planning, traffic, and parks committees all have vacancies that need to be filled.

The next meeting of the Shawnee City Commission is scheduled for Sept. 8 at 6 p.m. The city commission meets in the Commission Chambers at City Hall, located at 16 West 9th Street in Shawnee.

 

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