Planning Commissioners take their seats

By From page A1 | March 6, 2011

Newly appointed Placerville Planning Commissioners Brian Briggs, Les Russell and Peter Wolfe joined Planning Commissioners Michael Frenn and Dolly Wager at the March 1 Planning Commission meeting to begin their four year terms. Russell and Wolfe returned for their second terms while Brian Briggs replaced Planning Commissioner Carol Anne Ogdin who did not apply for another term.

The commission’s job is to work with the director of Community Development, city staff and other city government officials to guide and monitor the city’s long-term planning and development. Commissioners review proposals on city design, land use, subdivisions, signage and environmental impact and make recommendations to the City Council regarding amendments to the General Plan, rezoning requests and other planning matters.

Five planning commissioners are appointed to their position by the City Council after a panel interview of all candidates. The interview is open to the public and council members take a ballot immediately after all candidates have been interviewed. Terms begin on March 1 of odd numbered years and expire in four years.

Brian Briggs, 30, is the only new face on the Planning Commission. He is a real estate broker and attorney who has lived in Placerville all his life.

“I read the ad in the Mountain Democrat for applications for the Planning Commission and I’m really interested in local land use. I wanted to give back to the community and help plan for Placerville’s future.”

Briggs has experience with the Planning Commission from the other side of the dias. In September, the Planning Commission approved a tentative subdivision map for Briggs’ commercial park off Ray Lawyer Drive.

Married, and with a 10-month-old daughter, Briggs said he brings new blood and a younger perspective to the commission along with his experience as an attorney and real estate agent.

“When I was at McGeorge School of Law, I took every land use, environmental law and real estate class I could because I found them to be so interesting.”

During the panel interview for the Planning Commission seats, Briggs said he noticed a lot of discussion and public misconception about redevelopment and how it works.

“I’d like to change those misconceptions and help get funding for redevelopment so we can fix the blighted areas.”

Les Russell has been on the Planning Commission since 2005 when he replaced Commissioner Jordan Kennedy who resigned mid-term.”I enjoy being on the Planning Commission and participating in local affairs,” said Russell. “I’ve been told I exhibit a little common sense from time to time.”

Russell, 74, who  brings a knowledge of commercial and residential property ownership in Placerville, has lived in El Dorado County since 1949.

“I left for a few years when I went into the military and college and I worked in Nevada and Marin County as a park supervisor, Parks and Recreation administrator in Novato and as consultant for building parks.”

Moving back to El Dorado County in 1979, Russell built Granite Springs Winery, served on the Pioneer Fire District Board and as an El Dorado County Parks and Recreation commissioner before being appointed to the Placerville Planning Commission.

Russell said he believes in doing his homework.

“It’s very important to go out to project sites and get to know them when they come before the Planning Commission. You have to research what’s on the agenda and know the General Plan pretty well.

“The Redevelopment Agency is one of the more exciting things that’s come along for a long time,” said Russell. “There is a lot of misinformation about it with people thinking that big box stores are coming in and tearing down historical buildings. I think it will allow us to enhance and preserve our historical assets.”

Commissioner Peter Wolfe is a local architect and was not available for comment.

Commissioner Michael Frenn is in the middle of his third term on the Planning Commission and Commissioner Dolly Wager was appointed to serve the remainder of Manny DeAquino’s term when he resigned from the Planning Commission in 2009. Both commission terms expire in 2013.

Contact Wendy Schultz at 530-344-5068 or [email protected]

Wendy Schultz

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