Coppola stays on planning board

Port Orchard Mayor-Elect Lary Coppola intends to complete his term on the Kitsap County Planning Commission, saying there is no conflict of interest. And South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel, who nominated Coppola to the Planning Commission in 2001, agrees.

“Between the two of us, we could not see a conflict,” Angel said. “He has said that he wants to finish his term and will let me know if a conflict arises.”

Coppola’s term expires at the end of 2008. He has said he will not seek reappointment.

“I don’t think it will be a problem,” Coppola said. “If it is, Jan will be the first to know. Over the next year there are a number of unfinished projects that are near and dear to my heart which I would like to see through.”

The Planning Commission is comprised of nine members, three from each commissioner district. It has no statutory power, but makes advisory recommendations to the county commissioners.

Coppola expects to serve as Planning Commission chairman during 2008, saying that he will only vote in order to break a tie.

He said a chairman is not forbidden from voting by statute but he feels it is the right thing to do.

“When I last served as chair in 2003, I did not vote when there wasn’t a tie,” he said.

Shortly after Coppola filed for the mayor’s position, Central Kitsap Planning Commissioner Jim Sommerhauser said that holding both jobs would be a conflict of interest.

“I don’t think a city official should be deciding issues that are just outside its borders but may affect its annexation plans,” Sommerhauser said. “The Planning Commission will decide issues for the land that is around the city.”

Sommerhauser said that Coppola’s non-voting stance “denies the citizens of South Kitsap three voting commissioners, so they don’t get full representation on the planning commission.”

Sommerhauser said he will be on the lookout for any possible conflicts of interest and bring them to the attention of the board should they occur.

Sommerhauser also said that Coppola’s ascension to board chair was not a sure thing.

“Usually this year’s vice-chair becomes next year’s chair,” Sommerhauser said. “But there still has to be a vote.”

Currently, the Planning Commission has one vacancy in District 3, where Commissioner Josh Brown has declined to reappoint incumbent Dean Jenniges. While saying it is not his call, Coppola feels that Jenniges’ presence on the board kept it balanced.

“We have three people who tend to vote a certain way,” Coppola said. “Three others go another way and the last three are moderators. If Josh appoints someone too far to the left it will make the board less balanced.”

Coppola is scheduled to become Port Orchard Mayor in January.

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