Knight placed on paid administrative leave

Photo by Tamie Meck Paonia town administrator Ken Knight addresses the town board during the visitor section of the July 23 board meeting about a July 19 incident that occurred between Knight and a citizen. The incident resulted in a complaint by the cit

The Town of Paonia is beginning its search for a new town administrator to replace Ken Knight. Knight remains on paid administrative leave after a confrontation involving a citizen that resulted in a harassment charge filed against him with the Delta County Sheriff’s Office. The Paonia board of trustees voted at the Aug. 13 meeting to have the finance and personnel committee reach out to different entities for advice on the process.

While an interim administrator may not be ideal, the statutory requirements for hiring an administrator can be lengthy and require consideration of more than one candidate, said Mayor Charles Stewart. “The reality is, it is difficult for the town to function without an administrator.”

While staff is handling the day-to-day issues, some items coming down the pipeline will require administrative decision-making.

Knight was the fifth Paonia administrator or manager hired in the past six years. The board was urged by a citizen to do “a little more in-depth vetting” of applicants to avoid problems that occurred with the current administrator.

Mayor pro-tempore Chelsea Bookout agreed that getting an interim administrator is important to the process. She also recognizes “the amazing staff” for continuing to function without an administrator. With the last hiring process, said Bookout, the board was “very volatile” and there was not a lot of interest in the job. I hope that we will have a better opportunity to present ourselves as a community and a board and attract some qualified people in this go-around.”

Consideration of a Dollar General store coming to the south entrance to Paonia off of Highway 133 still has not come before the Paonia board of trustees. At the Aug. 13 meeting, all agenda items relating to the property known as the Stahl Addition, including a public hearing for annexation, were continued at the request of applicant Arvin Stahl.

The property has been identified as the site for the proposed business, also known as a “formula business.”

The board did adopt on second reading an ordinance adding a definition for formula businesses to the town code. It defines formula businesses as those which, by contract, offer a “standardized array of services and/or merchandise, trademarks, logos, servicemarks, symbols, decor, architecture, layout, uniforms, or similar standardized features and which causes it to be substantially identical to more than five other businesses regardless of ownership or location”

Formula businesses can include restaurants, retail stores, banks, real estate sales offices, spas, hair and nail salons, and hotels, inns and other lodging businesses.

The ordinance also designates zoning districts in which formula businesses are permitted by right, by special review, or are prohibited.

The ordinance was suggested to the board when rumor of a Dollar General store proposed on the Stahl property came to light in July. A petition was presented to the board with more than 125 signatures calling for amendments to the town’s zoning code, and adding language addressing formula businesses. At a July board meeting, more than 100 citizens packed the Town Hall community room to express concern over the proposal.

The board also passed on Aug. 13 an ordinance creating the Highway 133 Corridor Overlay District & Highway 133 Corridor Development Submittal Requirements & Design Standards.

The overlay ensures that development along the Highway 133 Corridor occurs in accordance with the Highway 133 Corridor Master Plan and amends the town zoning map to include the overlay.

Both ordinances were reviewed and recommended for approval by the town Planning Commission. Originally presented as emergency ordinances in anticipation of Dollar General coming before the Planning Commission and town board, because the Stahl agenda items were continued, the ordinances were not passed under an emergency.

Load comments