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Peachtree Corners appoints planning, zoning boards

PEACHTREE CORNERS -- As Tuesday's City Council meeting was adjourned, Peachtree Corners Mayor Mike Mason felt a weight lifted off his shoulders.

After months of planning, interviews and meetings, Mason was happy to see the first planning commission and zoning board of appeals members be nominated and confirmed.

"When we wanted to start a city, we knew planning and zoning boards would be a big part of it," Mason said. "This is a culmination for us.

"It's another opportunity for community members to get involved and hear the issues that are going on in the city. It's no longer a mayor and city council. We have (volunteer) boards that will help steer our city towards the future."

Mason and the other council members listened to the recommendations made by Gwinnett County District 2 Commissioner Lynette Howard, who was a part of a three-person committee that went through applications and conducted interviews for the five slots on each board.

"This was a fun process," Howard said. "We had 31 applicants that were all qualified to fill the positions. In truth, we could have filled the boards two or three times over with qualified applicants."

In the end, Howard and the two other members on the committee chose the five for each board they felt were the most qualified.

Included on the planning commission are Alan Kaplan (Post A), Mark Middleton (Post B), Mark Willis (Post C), Matt Houser (Post D) and Italia Metts (Post E).

"I'm really excited to work with great people," Kaplan said after getting confirmed for his post. "My role is to work with my counterparts, and to build and understand the comprehensive plan for the city. Our goal is to continue to grow the quality of life in Peachtree Corners."

The zoning board of appeals includes Marcia Brandes (Post A), Wayne Knox (Post B), Amretta Regmi (Post C), Eric Christ (Post D) and James Blum (Post E).

Posts A and B on both boards will run through January 2014, while the other three posts will run through January 2015 to ensure that all posts won't have new people at the same time. Mason did mention that those on the board could be re-appointed when their term is up, a decision that will be left up to the city council.

Prior to giving his vote for approval, councilman James Lowe wanted to ensure that Howard and the other members of the committee had asked the tough questions during the interview process.

"Can these people make the right decision for the city?" he asked.

To that, city consultant John Kachmar was happy to answer.

"We asked them if they would be able to say no to residents or developers," Kachmar said. "We wanted to know if they could make the tough decision, even if it wasn't the most popular one. All of those interviewed responded the way we hoped they would, which was yes."

With both boards now filled, all know there's still a lot of work ahead.

"They still are going to have to elect a chairperson, according to the city by-laws and are going to have to go through the training," Kachmar said. "There's still a lot of work to do."