The East Baton Rouge Parish Planning Commission on Monday voted 8-0 to extend Planning Director Troy Bunch’s employment past his planned retirement this fall until July 31, 2014.
The commission went into executive session to discuss the matter, citing the exception to Open Meetings law for discussions that involve personnel.
Commissioner Sarah Holliday-James objected to the move to go into executive session, saying she felt that even though compensation could come up, the board should do its work in public. Her motion failed to get a second.
Bunch said the original plans for his retirement were made three years ago, but the ongoing implementation of FuturEBR caused the commission to reconsider the timing.
FuturEBR was the 18-month, $1.9 million revamp of the parish’s master plan for development that was adopted last year and is being integrated into the city-parish’s land use and development code.
Bunch said that rules require that compensation for his post-retirement employment be limited to 29 hours a week, though he said he will continue to do the same job he does today and the same amount of work.
Bunch could not be reached for comment after the meeting Monday night, but the city-parish budget lists the salary range for his position at $72,338-$100,202.
After coming out of executive session to vote, Commissioner Darius Bonton said the implementation of FuturEBR is too important to suffer a lack of continuity in planning leadership.
Bunch has been planning director since 1995 and was assistant planning director two years before that.
Commissioners Holliday-James, Bonton, Tara Wicker, James Gilmore, Audrey Nabors Jackson, Laurie Marien, John Price and Martha Jane Tassin voted to extend Bunch’s employment. Commissioner W.T. Winfield left the meeting early and did not vote.
In other business, the commission voted 7-1 to approve a 50-unit townhome development on Plank Road called The Gardens.
The commission had previously rejected the development twice, but the developer met with Metro Councilwoman Ronnie Edwards and local pastors to work out an agreement on how The Gardens would be built and operated.
Nabors Jackson commended the agreement, but said she still could not support The Gardens because the rules for tenants were too strict, not allowing pets or wading pools, for example.
A controversial request to convert a home real estate office on Perkins Road in Southdowns to a doctor’s office was deferred.
Randy Roussel, the attorney for property owner Ben Skillman, said Skillman wants to spend more time talking over the issue with Southdowns residents who oppose the rezoning. Those residents say commercial development should not encroach into the neighborhoods south of Perkins Road.
Skillman, a local real estate developer, owns the 1.6-acre site at 4150 Perkins Road, at the southwest corner of Stuart and Perkins.