Dickert, 86, Has Been On Planning Commission More Than 20 Years
BY KEN LITTLE
Change has been a constant recently in the City of Tusculum.
The Tusculum Planning Commission welcomed new Community Planner Ross Phillips Tuesday night and accepted the surprise resignation of longtime Commissioner Warren Dickert.
Eva Sams, Tusculum recorder for the last 10 years, retired effective Dec. 1, and John Lamb, a retired U.S. Army officer who worked previously at Tusculum College as director of information systems, was named city recorder.
Also in December, Alex Chesnut was sworn in as city attorney. He succeeded Jim Mercer, who stepped down as Tusculum's city attorney after 15 years.
Dickert, who has been a planning commission member for more than 20 years, said after the meeting he turns 87 this summer.
"I've decided to step aside and retire from the commission and let somebody younger and with new ideas take my place," he told the other commissioners.
A new Planning Commission member will be recommended within the next few months by Mayor John Foster. Dickert's resignation, effective immediately, was unexpected.
Dickert was currently serving as vice-chairman of the Planning Commission. Earlier in his tenure, he had served as the commission chairman and as its secretary.
Dickert moved to Tusculum about 27 years ago from Ohio and began attending municipal meetings soon afterward.
He was appointed to the commission by current Planning Commission Chairman Robert Bird when Bird was Tusculum mayor.
'WILLING TO SERVE'
"I do want to compliment you for being willing to serve. You're doing something that you've been willing to accept," Bird said to Dickert.
Foster, who is also on the Planning Commission, said he has to study the city's municipal code to reacquaint himself with the replacement process for a commission member.
"We haven't had this come up in a while," Foster said.
Planning Commission members, like members of the city Board of Mayor and Commissioners, are unpaid volunteers.
Dickert, who retired in 1990 from the former Doehler-Jarvis automotive parts plant in Greeneville, praised the work of his fellow planning board members and said he's enjoyed serving the City of Tusculum.
"I've learned how to have the citizens' health, well-being and safety in mind when you plan streets, parks, greenways, commercial centers, drainage, flood concerns and all those things," he said.
Dickert still plans to attend Board of Mayor and Commissioners meetings.
NEW PLANNER WELCOMED
Ross Phillips, of the First Tennessee Development District (FTDD), was formally welcomed Tuesday night by Planning Commission members.
Phillips replaces former Community Planner Rebecca Ketchie, an attorney who took a job with a private law firm in Kingsport.
Phillips, 29, also is planner for Bulls Gap, Mosheim, Erwin, Newport, Washington County and Cocke County.
Phillips is a Virginia native who lives in Bristol. He said he looks forward to working with Tusculum officials.
"One cool thing about my job is seeing the different communities and the commonalities and the differences in (administration). It's fresh and challenging and exciting," Phillips said.
TO PROVIDE PLANNING SUPPORT
Phillips received his bachelor's degree in environmental policy and planning from Virginia Tech, and law and master's degrees in water resources from the University of Idaho.
In his planner position with Tusculum and other municipalities, Phillips said he will "provide support for planning and development decisions."
He started his job with the FTDD in December. In his position as planner, Phillips will assist officials with matters such as site-plan reviews, ordinance changes and zoning issues.
The FTDD has worked with local municipalities since spring 2011, when the Tennessee Division of Economic and Community Development announced that it would no longer provide planning services to local governments.
ZONING MAP UPDATED
In other business, Foster said the city's zoning map has been updated to reflect rezoning changes on properties in the city over the past few years.
"It's simple updating to keep up with things the Planning Commission and the Board of Mayor and Commissioners have already approved," Foster said.
The next scheduled meeting of the Tusculum Planning Commission is at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11, at city hall, 145 Alexander St.