Fairfield County planning commissioner removed from board, then reinstated

WINNSBORO – Fairfield County Planning Commissioner Donna Miller was sitting at her computer watching the Oct. 23 Fairfield County Council meeting on You Tube when Council voted to appoint David Brown to the District 7 seat of the Fairfield County Planning Commission.

“I was shocked.” Miller told The Voice. “That’s my seat. I’m the District 7 planning commissioner. And I was being replaced and no one had said anything to me.”

Having served for barely a year and a half on the commission, Miller said her term began on March 29, 2022 and was not supposed to expire until March 28, 2025. She had been` nominated for the board by District 7 Councilman Clarence Gilbert and approved by the full council.

Miller emailed the county’s planning director, Carter Thompson.

“In the recent county council meeting, I saw they appointed David Brown to District 7,” Miller wrote. “That would be me. I am the representative for District 7. Was I replaced?”

Thompson responded the next morning.

“I just received the paperwork yesterday,” Thompson wrote. “Mr. Brown was appointed by County Council member Gilbert. Thank you for your service and perhaps you can serve in another capacity in the future. Thank you.”

Miller replied to Thompson. “I find it odd no one told me,” Miller wrote.

“I just found out and was going to notify you today,” Thompson wrote back. “There will be other opportunities in the future. Thank you.”

Miller then turned to Gilbert for an explanation.

“Wondering why I have been replaced on the planning commission without anyone saying a word to me?” Miller wrote to Gilbert.

Gilbert apologized, in a response, but he said someone told him Miller’s term was up.

Later that night, Miller emailed Gilbert that, according to her appointment letter, she was ap pointed to serve until March 2025.”

The next day, Gilbert again apologized, saying he had made a mistake. He said he hadn’t done his homework and should have reached out to her before making the change.

“I took for granted the information I had was correct,” Gilbert said. “I accept full responsibility for my mistake. I hope you can find in your heart to accept this apology.”

While Miller said she accepted his apology, she told The Voice she was upset that no one was saying anything about correcting the situation and giving her seat back. She also wondered if she was taken off the commission because she was the one who had made the motion to recommend that council deny the rezoning of the Gum Springs property several weeks earlier.

About an hour later, Gilbert apologized again.

“Anyone who knows me knows I am about peace. God bless you,” he wrote in an email. He said he looked forward to seeing her.

“If you see me, say something to me,” he wrote.

When The Voice emailed Gilbert two days later, asking what triggered Miller being booted off the commission, Gilbert wrote back, saying, “No comment at this time. It’s being looked into.”

Later that day, Miller said she was notified that there had been a mix-up and that she would be reinstated to her seat on the Commission.

The next morning Gilbert emailed Miller, saying the wrong expiration date was next to her name, both the month and the year, and that was why she was taken off the commission, Miller said.

“You will be reinstated in your position, and your expiration date will be in 2025.

Asked by The Voice if he would remain on the commission along with Miller from the same district. Brown said he didn’t know for sure, but that he thought it was being worked out that he might remain on the commission as the representative from another district.

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