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Olathe Planning Commission to select new chair out of cycle

In the meantime, vice commission chair Jeremy Fry will serve as acting chair until a new chair is selected.

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With the chairperson's position vacant on the Olathe Planning Commission, the body will have to break from its typical schedule and tap its new chair earlier in the year. That vacancy was created after the mayor elected not to reappoint Dean Vakas, long-time chair, to the commission. 

Aimee Nassif, the city government's chief planning and development officer, said the commission’s officer selections usually happen in May and most appointments expire in April, but without a formally selected chair, the position will need to be filled early. That will occur at the end of the next regularly scheduled meeting, which is on Jan. 24 by a commission vote. 

Vakas told the Olathe Reporter he’d had previous conversations with Mayor John Bacon indicating his interest in continuing on the Planning Commission but was “disappointed” to be informed on Dec. 13 that he would be replaced. Later that day, he presided over his last commission meeting. 

According to city documents from the last City Council meeting, Vakas’ term on the Planning Commission actually expired in April, but the Mayor did not move to replace him until December. A reason for the delay in making a new appointment and replacing Vakas on the commission at all was not made clear, but it's worth noting that Vakas did run last year for a seat on the City Council.

Vakas was first appointed to the Planning Commission by Bacon’s predecessor Mike Copeland in 2015. Earlier this year, he made a bid for an at-large seat on the City Council, championing in particular a change to the city's policy on benefit districts. Vakas was beaten by Kevin Gilmore, who was already sitting on the City Council. 

Jeffrey Creighton, a former Planning Commission member, was selected to fill Vakas’ seat, but that doesn’t mean he will automatically become the next chair. 

In the meantime, vice commission chair Jeremy Fry will serve as acting chair until a new chair is selected. In addition to presiding over meetings, the chair communicates with city planning staffers and has other responsibilities beyond the expectations of a regular commissioner. 

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