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Leishman appointment to planning board has some worried

February 28th, 2014 Posted in Opinion

By Sarah Romero

WELLSVILLE—Not everyone is supportive of Wellsville’s new planning and zoning commissioner, appointed Wednesday night.


Wellsville City Manager Don Hartle swears in Jarold Leishman. Sarah Romero photo

Jerald Leishman replaces John Spence, who recently resigned. But some residents are concerned about the new appointment.

“There are some people that are very upset I’m here, just because they believe I am set in my ways,” Leishman said. “I am a very opinionated person, but I am not dead set in my opinions.”

Leishman says he hopes to have an “open-minded attitude” as a planning and zoning commissioner.

“I would like to think that I can give a neutral opinion,” he said. “I am willing to listen to anybody, any proposal and any concern.”

Two years ago, Steve Kyriopoulos applied for city approval to build a truck stop on the corner of 400 North and U.S. Highway 89/91. The city is still debating the issue, and many residents are concerned about the potential traffic, pollution, noise and safety hazards it presents.

Leishman, an auto mechanic and part owner of Tom’s Service at 4701 Hwy. 89 in Wellsville, says his support of the truck stop has made some residents wary of his new position as commissioner.

“I’ve got neighbors concerned because I have a pro-business attitude and a lot of neighbors don’t want any business along the highway,” Leishman said. “Am I all-out 100 percent in favor of the truck stop? No. If all the concerns are addressed, then yes. I think business is important and there’s been a lack of it here.”

Residents Scott and Paula Thatcher oppose the truck stop. But Scott Thatcher says he thinks Leishman will follow the city ordinances, regardless of his personal opinion of the truck stop. Paula Thatcher refused to comment when asked about Leishman’s new appointment.

Leishman says his experience as a diesel mechanic, construction worker and his involvement with vehicle emissions testing gives him background to make informed decisions about the truck stop issue.

But some residents are still worried.

Katie Christensen lives in the subdivision across from where the truck stop would be built. She says she is “disappointed with the way the government has gone about this,” and hopes Leishman is “open to listening,” and will give a neutral opinion.

“I like him as a person,” she said. “But I am concerned he might be leaning in one direction.”

But City Councilman Perry Maughan said Leishman will make a good commissioner because of his experience, knowledge and long history with Wellsville, which has a population of about 3,800.

“Me living in the city my whole life, I think I’ve got a different perspective on some issues than someone who’s just come to the city,” Leishman said. “I hope I can put a fresh perspective on the commission because of my background and what I know is going on in the community around me.”

Leishman said he intended to turn the position down when Mayor Thomas Bailey asked him to replace Spence on the planning commission.

“But then I realized I don’t think I have a right to complain or have an opinion if I’m not willing to step up to the plate and be involved,” he said.

Leishman says living in Wellsville for more than 50 years has given him insight and a different perspective than many residents, which will help him contribute to the planning commission’s decisions.

“But I’ll have to walk a narrow line,” he said. “I don’t want to make my neighbors mad but I need to stand up for zoning rights too.”



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  1. One Response to “Leishman appointment to planning board has some worried”

  2. By Kim VanSweden on Mar 10, 2014

    I think Leishman will do a great job and Wellsville City needs change. There is too much of the good ole boys syndrome currently there. More businesses are needed so Wellsville City can receive more revenue to fix their roads and other issues. John Spence in my opinion did not represent Wellsville City very well. He’s got a reputation of publicly degrading women and using threatening and disturbing language. He should have been ousted a long time ago.

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