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Final Afton planning commissioner takes a seat

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The Afton Planning Commission finally has all of its pieces in place now that the city council has appointed the final commissioner -- Tom Nolz.

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It has been some time since the planning commission has had a full nine-person status, because there were no applicants for the business member seat.

The council approved a change to the makeup of the planning commission at its April 21 meeting when they approved an amendment to the ordinance to change the requirement for a member of the business community to simply an "at-large" representative.

Council member Peg Nolz first made this proposal at the council's Feb. 17 meeting when they were appointing the new members to the planning commission.

Tom Nolz has lived in Afton for the past 14 years and is also council member Peg Nolz's brother. During the meeting, Peg Nolz did not excuse herself from the vote.

According to Minnesota law regarding conflicts of interest, contracts with relatives of a council member are not prohibited unless the council member has a financial interest in their relative's business or income.

Since the planning commission is a volunteer position and has no real authority other than to make recommendations, this does not constitute a conflict of interest.

Council members Bill Pamquist and Randy Nelson voted against appointing Tom Nolz to the commission.

Palmquist said he worried about the transparency of this appointment because initially there were openings of commissioners in Ward 1, Ward 3 and a business member. But since they re-advertised for the at-large position, Ward 2 will now have more representation than any of the other wards.

Council member Joe Richter said he felt that Tom Nolz was the best candidate because of his qualifications and he thinks Nolz will bring a lot to the planning commission.

"It requires extensive knowledge for the planning commission to function properly," he said.

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Amber Kispert-Smith
Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.
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