The issue of residency was raised Tuesday, as the Port Orchard City Council (minus Rob Puttaansuu and Fred Chang, who were working) discussed outgoing Mayor Lary Coppola’s appointment of his wife Dee Coppola to the city planning commission.
It was up to the council to confirm (or not) the appointment. The planning commission is an advisory board, like the several other boards and committees that weigh in on topics such as parks and development design standards. The planning commission advises on land use, and so could be seen as a relatively powerful body of citizen advisers.
Typically, the council accepts the mayor’s recommendations for all boards and committees without much to-do. But during discussion of Dee Coppola’s appointment, there was a focus on the residency rule that only one of the eight planning commission members can be a nonresident. The council on Dec. 13, already had appointed Robert Baglio, who lives outside city limits.
The Coppolas live in The Rockwell Apartments in downtown Port Orchard, and they own a home in Manchester. At Tuesday’s meeting I, too, was wondering about the residency issue, since Mayor Coppola, in an interview Monday, told me he and Dee plan to move back to Manchester.
The whole thing was also a bit reminiscent of rumors that swirled around Lary Coppola’s official residence during his 2007 bid for mayor.
On Tuesday, Councilman Fred Olin asked, “If someone on the planning commission moves out of the city, and Mr. Baglio is appointed as the non-resident, would that person have to withdraw from the planning commission?”
City attorney Greg Jacoby said city code does not address the issue, which has not come up before. He said there were a couple of possible interpretations. On the one hand, the council could ask to have the appointee removed from the commission. On the other, the appointee could be considered grandfathered in. “I’m not saying that’s the best interpretation,” Jacoby said.
At the request of the council, Jacoby said he would do further research to try to clarify how the code should be interpreted in the event Dee Coppola does move out of the city during her term on the planning commission.
Dee Coppola herself was clear on what would happen. “I’d have to resign,” she said, while allowing for the possibility of being grandfathered in. It would be up to the council to make that call, she implied.
Dee added that she and Lary have no immediate plans to move into the Manchester house, in which the Coppolas have undertaken an extensive remodel. There’s still a lot of work to be done, Dee said. So as for moving, “It’s going to be a while.”