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Latest resignation leaves Ford City planning board with only 2 members |

Latest resignation leaves Ford City planning board with only 2 members

Cody Atherton a few weeks ago was the Ford City planning commissioner leading the charge to fix up blighted properties throughout the borough. Monday he resigned his post and walked away.

“When I was originally appointed to the committee, I thought we’d be able to help the borough,” Atherton said. “You can tell by the dysfunction on council that is not the case.”

His resignation came during a town hall meeting called to discuss the future of the Ford City Police Department, where his father is the officer in charge. He is the third planning commissioner to resign this year, leaving the borough with an ineffective two-person board.

He said his father, Sgt. John Atherton, did not influence him to resign. It was a recommendation made by the council’s police committee to disband the police department — in part what led to the town hall meeting — that he said made him unable to continue his work on the planning commission.

“The bottom line is I don’t want to be associated with some of the negative externalities that may come out of this council’s decisions — like a decrease in public safety if they disband the police,” he said.

Councilman Gene Banks called the latest planning commission resignation “very frustrating.” Commissioners Andy Rudosky and Matt Lerner resigned from the board in the summer.

Banks, who attends the monthly planning commission meetings, said Atherton and Commissioner Tyson Klukan were making headway with plans to repair streets and fight blight in a program they tabbed “Blight to Life.”

“They took the ball and ran with it. And we need that kind of zeal,” Banks said. “Cody’s a good guy and he had an eye on keeping Ford City alive.”

Just a few weeks ago, Atherton and Klukan talked with representatives of statewide housing initiatives who offered advice and resources for promoting economic development and rebuilding communities, Klukan said.

“But the whole blight project, it looks like that will probably be pushed to 2015 now,” he said. “We’re probably going to still push forward, but with a new strategy and direction.”

The borough will advertise to fill the openings on the five person planning commission as soon as possible, Banks said.

Klukan is considering an emphasis on strategic planning and said the commission will have to refocus in the wake of a resignation that came as a surprise to him.

“I have nothing but good things to say about him,” Klukan said. “I’m sure he’ll still bring good ideas to the planning commission, even if he’s not a member.”

Julie E. Martin is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at [email protected] or 724-543-1303 ext. 1315.

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