The Molokai Planning Commission (MoPC) serves a vital role in the community as the gatekeeper for development and construction that could potentially cause harm to the environment or encourage local businesses to thrive. There is currently one vacancy on this volunteer commission, and another vacancy anticipated.
DeGray Vanderbilt had been nominated in April by Mayor Arakawa to serve on the MoPC. Vanderbilt withdrew his name, however, just as the County Council voted to approve his appointment. Several community members, including members of the Molokai Chamber of Commerce, had offered testimony in opposition of his nomination, primarily because of concerns over his residency. Vanderbilt, who has previously served on the MoPC for five years, said via email that he withdrew his name because “I didn’t want to compromise the integrity of the Commission by allowing the Chamber to cast dispersions on one of its members.”
Vanderbilt said he originally applied for the position when he heard about the vacancy and that the commission was having trouble getting quorum to hold meetings. Five of the nine commission members are required to be present for quorum and legal voting.
“I just wanted to help out if I could,” Vanderbilt said.
Mike Molina, executive assistant to the mayor, who also oversees boards and commissions, said there are seven other applicants for the opening as of last week.
Molina said a second vacancy is anticipated, as a commission member has been absent from meetings for some time and has not responded to calls.
“In the event a member does not respond, the council can replace him,” said Molina, adding that in this case, the process will likely begin in the next month.
The names of the seven applicants are confidential until the mayor makes his selection recommendation, according to Molina. He said the vacancies will be filled as soon as possible, hopefully by mid- to late June.
Anyone can apply at any time to become a member of the MoPC, according to current commission Chairperson Mikiala Pescaia. The application stays on file with the county for two years, and when a vacancy comes up, the mayor will pick a nomination to be approved by the County Council.
Molina said applicants much be a resident of Molokai and be available to attend the twice-monthly meetings. He added that preference is given to those with prior community experience or land use planning knowledge.
Those wishing to apply may call Molina at (808) 270-8211 with any questions. The application may be downloaded from the county website then mailed or faxed to the county.