Skagit Valley Herald March 13, 2013
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Land use and the citizens’ role
During a recent Skagit County Planning Commission meeting, certain individuals, including Planning Director Dale Pernula, demonstrated a lack of respect for citizens’ rights regarding local government operations.
State law (RCW42.30.010) declares “all public commissions, boards, councils, committees, subcommittees, departments, divisions, offices, and all other public agencies of this state and subdivisions thereof exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business … people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know.”
Pernula’s failure to adequately inform citizens about a proposal from the prosecutor’s office, and his reluctance to acknowledge the public’s unanimous opposition to same, did not go unnoticed. Former Planning Commission chair Jason Easton was particularly impressed that such a diverse group of citizens were rebelling against a loss of control over future land-use decisions. The scheme would eliminate enforcement of the state’s Planning Enabling Act, thereby transferring Planning Commission authority to Pernula’s department.
In his dissent, Easton was joined by longtime member Carol Ehlers and two recently appointed members, Josh Axthelm and Keith Greenwood. A sense of responsibility to honor public sentiment eventually led to the commission’s motion to reject the proposal.
As one who has followed Skagit County land-use issues for more than 20 years, I am amazed by our community’s solidarity in this instance. It sends a very strong message to commissioners Dahlstedt, Dillon and Wesen that citizens are no longer willing to tolerate the devious plans of a few who seek to undermine the good work of so many. Any planning commissioner who does not understand the rules of the game should be relieved of his or her duties.