A Glynn County Islands Planning Commission meeting got a little loud Tuesday when Commissioner George Ragsdale made a motion to add an item to the IPC’s agenda.
Ragsdale wanted to discuss sending a request to the Glynn County Commission — the seven members who appoint the seven IPC members — asking it to institute an oath of office and a swearing-in ceremony for Mainland and Island planning commission members in 2021.
Ragsdale and Cate were appointed by county Commissioners Bob Coleman and Peter Murphy respectively. Murphy did not run for re-election this year, and Coleman lost his race.
Ragsdale said now seemed as good a time as any to broach the subject.
“I sat on other planning commissions in Pennsylvania and the Atlanta area, and it’s been my experience when you have committees or commissions and part of their duty is to interpret and apply the ordinances of the county, they are administered an oath or pledge to adhere to the ordinances to the best of their ability. It’s common practice,” Ragsdale said Wednesday.
He was also a member of the Glynn County Board of Equalization, which is appointed by a grand jury, to hear appeals of property value assessments. All members of that body must sign an oath to uphold the laws over which they have authority.
But IPC Chairman Joel Willis promptly ruled Ragsdale’s motion out of order.
“We’ve had this discussion about this, Commissioner Ragsdale,” Willis told him. “If there’s no requirement, we don’t need to take the time up right now doing that, so I’m going to rule that out of order.”
He said Ragsdale should speak to county commission members on an individual basis.
Cate said she wanted to appeal Willis’ decision to block Ragsdale’s motion, but Willis believed he was well within his authority to do so and made his thoughts clear on the matter.
“The county doesn’t require it and I don’t think we need to waste our time talking about it,” Willis said.
When asked, Senior Assistant County Attorney Will Worley, who attends IPC meetings to provide legal guidance, said it was not his place to tell the chairman the bounds of his authority, but that a motion could be ruled out of order for a wide variety of reasons.
Cate had the right to call for an appeal of the chairman’s decision, which is subject to a vote of the IPC members.
It was during this back-and-forth that county resident Jeff Kilgore moved to the front of the room to challenge Willis, saying he was the one who was out of order and that Ragsdale had every right to make the motion he had earlier in the meeting.
County ordinance allows committee members to add items to a meeting agenda up until the meeting is adjourned, “if the matter deals with an emergency situation or is a matter of extreme importance to Glynn County.”
Willis was unwilling to allow Kilgore to speak and banged his gavel several times in an attempt to restore order, but his actions failed to silence Kilgore.
“If the police were here, I’d have them escort you out,” Willis said.
“I suspect you would, and I’ll leave here just as soon as I get finished having my say,” Kilgore responded.
The motion to overrule Willis’ ruling ultimately failed 2-4 — Cate and Ragsdale voted in favor, Willis and IPC members Odessa Rooks, Samantha DiPolito and Patrick Duncan opposed.
Ragsdale said he would try speaking with county commissioners about the proposal but doubted he’d bring it up at an IPC meeting again.
“The chairman declared me out of order and four out of the six members of the planning commission (who attended the meeting) agreed with him, so it was a dead issue,” Ragsdale said.
The Island Planning Commission approved a site plan for a house in the Yacht Club neighborhood that allows the developer to encroach on marsh development buffers.
It also granted a permit for more vegetation in the beach and dune protection buffer at a house at the end of 13th Street in the East Beach neighborhood.