City taking applications for Council vacancy

— As the city approaches the deadline for filling a vacant Craig City Council seat, it waits for the public to get involved, said Shirley Seely, city clerk and personnel director.

The city usually gets about two to three applications for the Council each time there's a vacated seat, and this time around is no different.

"I know that the city would always like to have more public interest in the position," Seely said.

Rod Compton resigned his Council position at the Council's Jan. 8 meeting. By statute the Council has 60 days to appoint someone.

The appointee would sit on the Council until the city's next general election, in this case April 2009. Whoever is elected would complete Compton's four-year term, set to expire in 2011.

The city plans to take applications until Monday, Seely said.

There is no formal application process. Residents interested must file a letter of intent at City Hall.

To qualify, residents must be a U.S. citizen, 25 years old, a registered voter and have lived in Craig for at least one full year prior to filing.

The Council plans to interview applicants Feb. 12 before its regular semimonthly meeting.

Traditionally, the Council holds a paper ballot to select the appointee, Seely said. The applicant with a majority vote takes the position.

If the Council cannot reach a majority, the city has 120 days to hold a popular vote to fill the vacancy.

As of early Friday, the city has two applications: Chris Nichols and Dave VanWagner.

The older hand

Nichols, McDonald's owner and former Craig Fire/Rescue chief, has sat on the city Planning and Zoning Commission for about 20 years, he said.

He would like to take the next step.

"Over the years I've overseen many of the codes put in place to stimulate growth," Nichols said. "I think the City Council has done a great job, and I just want to participate with them."

Nichols pointed to the city's new land use code recommended by Planning and Zoning and approved by the Council last year as an example of policy he helped draft.

The codes were intended to stimulate community development, Nichols said, and included design standards for new construction, such as landscaping and architecture, and also new zoning regulations.

The new zoning policies created a mixed use zone district, which allows residential properties in commercial areas, such as north Yampa Avenue, to expand and renovate, Community Development Director Dave Costa said.

Before, residential properties grandfathered into a current commercial area were not allowed to expand their base, Costa said.

"Growth is good," Nichols said. "Growth the community can be proud of is better."

The newer face

VanWagner, 51, works as a real estate agent and appraiser with All Star Realty. He's never been involved with a public board before, but wants to take the plunge.

He applied "just to be a part of the city's future," VanWagner said. "I think we're going to be facing some interesting growth issues."

VanWagner's background in the real estate market should help him and the Council examine possible issues when housing and growth issues arise, he said.

"Anytime you have your finger on the pulse of the market, it will help with the insight of some of the problems that might come up," the real estate agent said.

Like Nichols, VanWagner believes Craig is in opportunity's midst and credited the Council for doing an admirable job managing growth.

"I think the Council has done a good job so far," VanWagner said. "When you bring in things like Wal-Mart and Sonic and Walgreens, that will encourage more growth on its own."

However, he does not believe the city should pursue more building regulations.

"I know they're necessary for safety and uniformity," VanWagner said, "but I don't like to entertain any new codes or new taxes."

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