The body charged with overseeing changes in commercial and residential development in Warren County is undergoing changes of its own.

Due to retirements and departures from the area, the City-County Planning Commission of Warren County is adding two new commissioners and still has one more vacancy to fill.

Shannon Blackburn, a former educator now working for Stewart-Richey Construction, was sworn in before the June 18 meeting of the planning commission as the new representative from the city of Woodburn. She replaces Eric Madison, who has moved out of the county.

“It’s a chance to be involved in the future planning of the community,” said Blackburn, who taught in Warren County Public Schools and at Bowling Green Christian Academy before starting her current job at Stewart-Richey in January. “I thought it would be a good opportunity to get to know people in our area and the surrounding area.”

Another newcomer to the planning commission is veteran educator Debbie Richey, who was a teacher and administrator in the Warren County school system for 39 years. She has been appointed by the city of Smiths Grove to replace Albert Rich, who decided not to be reappointed.

Richey, who will take her seat on the planning commission in July, said she saw the appointment as an opportunity to give back to the community as a member of what she believes is an important organization.

“With all the economic growth as well as residential growth going on in Bowling Green and Warren County, it’s important to have the planning commission to stay on top of all the development,” said Richey, a former Briarwood Elementary School principal.

Richey said she has considered running for political office in the past and she sees this appointment as the next best thing.

“I’ve always played with the idea (of running for office),” Richey said. “I recognize that Bowling Green and Warren County have offered me many opportunities over the years. While I’m enjoying retirement, this is an opportunity to give back.”

Richey, who also serves on the board of directors of the Child Advocacy Center, believes her background in public education will be an asset as the planning commission considers rezonings, development plans and other issues.

“There are times (in education) when you have to discuss issues and arrive at a fair and objective decision,” she said. “You need those skills on the planning commission to ensure that you’re doing what’s best for the community.”

When Richey joins the planning commission next month, 11 of its 12 seats will be filled.

Tim Huston, one of four commissioners appointed by Warren Fiscal Court, has moved out of the county. Fiscal court hasn’t yet appointed someone to fill his spot.

In addition to Blackburn and Richey, the planning commission is made up of city of Bowling Green representatives Greg Gay, India Unseld, Mary Vitale and Dean Warren; Warren County representatives Tim Graham, Velma Runner and Christiaan Volkert; city of Oakland representative Mary Belle Ballance; and city of Plum Springs representative Sandy Clark.

Runner serves as chairperson, and Warren is vice chairman.

– Follow business reporter Don Sergent on Twitter @BGDNbusiness or visit

(1) comment


Why are the commission members not elected? Why do they have so much power to reclassify land use such that they literally control every business activity in this county? Why are they totally unaccountable to the people of this county over whom they wield so much power? Why is an employee of Stewart Richey on a commmision to which presumably Stewart Richey submits many many permit applications? How many contracts, sweet heart deals and other incentives are given to the close family members of these commission members by the businesses who submit land use/permit applications to the commission? How about requiring every permit application to require all such deals with family members of the commission be disclosed both prior and for 5 years after approval by every permit applicant?

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