Test pilot: adjustments board implements telecommunications

“I’m for it, particularly with the scenario we’re in now,” Whallen said. “The reason why I’m not there today is because I sat in on a park board meeting and I sat right next to Cory Brown. It kind of bewildered me pretty good. I said ‘You know, this is crazy so if we can do this then why not?’”

Following the COVID-19 diagnosis of Cameron Park Board Member Cody Brown, the city of Cameron coordinated its first hearing using telecommunication during Monday’s meeting of the Cameron Board of Adjustment.

With Board of Adjustment member Rich Whalen citing potential exposure from Brown as the reason for not attending Monday’s meeting, Cameron Community Development Director Tim Wymes considered the meeting as to launch an option for future city proceedings as COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus, spreads through Cameron.

“With everything going on with COVID-19 or Coronavirus, everyone is taking all precautionary measures for public safety with (crowds) no more than 10 and the 6-foot (distance) rule,” Wymes said. “This particular virus is changing the landscape of how we do business and our daily lives. A lot of stuff has been put on the back burner whether it’s through the board of adjustments, planning and zoning or a city council meeting. We’re going to have to adapt to the way we meet or interact with one another. Tonight, we are doing a Zoom meeting with the Board of Adjustment. This is our guinea pig test.”

Since a meeting involving Clinton County Emergency Management Director Blair Shock, businesses, schools and various government facilities restricted access to prevent the facilities from COVID-19 contamination and putting into jeopardy vital city services. While typically holding their meeting in the city council chambers, the Board of Adjustment held its first meeting in the basement of city hall in order to give board members a 6-foot distance between one another. 

“I’m for it, particularly with the scenario we’re in now,” Whallen said. “The reason why I’m not there today is because I sat in on a park board meeting and I sat right next to Cory Brown. It kind of bewildered me pretty good. I said ‘You know, this is crazy so if we can do this then why not?’”

The city has not announced whether Monday’s Cameron City Council meeting will take place utilizing Zoom, but Wymes said the city may need to invest in tablet computers to insure all parties necessary can participate.

“I don’t know if they’re going to buy a gang of them and alternate them through boards. You can also download it on your smartphones too,” Wymes said. 

Along with discussing new meeting policies and procedures, the board of adjustments also talked about creating a board of appeals for interpreting city building codes. Wymes said the appeals board would oversee decisions made by city staff, and meet in the instance of an appeal. The appeal would only be valid if the property under evaluation has restrictions differing from those in city codes and not based on comparisons to other properties or anecdotal arguments.

“In our property maintenance code, it states anybody that feels like by the interpretation of the code itself or the administrative unjustly made, then they can appeal that decision to a board of appeals,” Wymes said. “We actually don’t have a board of appeals in place and with this code we should have one in place. We need to have a board in place to oversee decisions made by city staff. The purpose of that board is to hear both sides of a story … As a city employee, I may said you need to do X, Y and Z, but the person may say I don’t think that’s what the code is saying.”

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