Town council chooses new zoning board rep

After two submission deadlines, two votes, four motions and some debate about parliamentary procedure, the Nashville Town Council has a new representative to sit on the Brown County Board of Zoning Appeals.

Donna Lutes won a majority of town council members’ votes on Aug. 5 — 3 to 2 — on the fourth attempt at passing a motion. She becomes the new BZA member to represent the town.

BZA members weigh evidence and make decisions about land use in the town and county. Former town representative “Buzz” King announced he was stepping down from the BZA in July.

First, council Vice President Nancy Crocker had nominated Bandy Russell, but that motion died for lack of a second. Then council member David Rudd nominated John Kennard. That motion did not pass, with Crocker, Anna Hofstetter and Tyra Miller voting against and only Rudd and town council President Jane Gore voting in favor.

Gore then nominated Donna Lutes and Miller seconded it. But Hofstetter told Gore that she hadn’t followed procedure exactly because she hadn’t announced that the last motion didn’t pass. Hostetter had wanted to nominate a different person, Andrew Tilton, but Gore had spoken first. She also had wanted to have the council used a ranked-choice voting method, like when the council was selecting a new town council member last month, but the majority of the council was not in favor of doing it that way.

The council’s attorney, James T. Roberts, was not at the meeting to give advice and no place had been set for him at the table.

After some debate about what was or was not necessary procedure, Hofstetter told Gore to go ahead and make her nomination, which she did again for Lutes. Rudd, Miller and Gore voted for her; Crocker and Hofstetter voted against.

Lutes, who lives in Gnaw Bone but owns property in town, is a real estate agent and formerly served in county government. She also is an appointed member of the Gnaw Bone Regional Sewer District Board.

The question had arisen before the council meeting of whether or not Lutes would be able to keep serving as the town’s representative on the zoning board because the sewer board will be changing to an elected board in 2022, and BZA rules bar anyone holding elected office from serving on the zoning board. There are also restrictions in state law. Gore had to leave her zoning board seat in 2020 for that reason because she was an elected member of the town council.

Four other candidates who had tossed their names in for the nomination were not discussed at the meeting. Tilton and Kennard were in the audience; applicants Russell, Lutes, Rosemary McQueary, Sherrie Mitchell and Kevin Fleming were not present. No applicants were permitted to speak about their qualifications beyond what they had submitted to the council with their letters of interest.

Gore had originally given a submission deadline of 4 p.m. July 9 to receive letters of interest, but that conversation with a reporter was not captured on the official meeting recording posted to the town’s website. It was published, though, and the town received five applicants before the deadline: Mitchell, Fleming, Lutes, McQueary and Russell. Kennard put his name in in mid-July.

On Aug. 2, Gore announced that the submission deadline was being reopened until Aug. 5 at 6:30 p.m. because the July 9 date was not captured on the town’s record. Tilton added his name for consideration on Aug. 5.

The town has one appointment to the BZA. King’s term was to end in January 2025, so the new appointee is to fill his spot until at least then.