Commissioners will talk with governor on growth management issues - Say a 'vocal minority' is driving the issues, expresses concerns about sanctions due to 'noncompliance' with GMA

By Mary Duncan
Shelton Journal - 

Shelton, WA - 1/10/2002 - The Mason County commissioners will sit down face to face with Governor Gary Locke in the state capitol next Thursday to discuss growth-management

"We don't feel the governor really knows where we are and what's happening
here, in terms of growth-management issues, in terms of tribal issues, the
Skokomish River problems," Commissioner Herb Baze told The Journal Wednesday

Since 1996, sections of the Mason County comprehensive plan, development
regulations and resource ordinance have been ruled invalid and out of
compliance with the Growth Management Act by the Western Washington Growth
Management Hearings Board.

The governor may levy sanctions and withhold certain state funds from any
jurisdiction which remains out of compliance for three years without making
a good-faith effort.

In December the commissioners learned what sanctions against Mason County
might mean for the 2002 budget. Figures prepared by Ione Siegler, budget
director, indicate the road department could lose about $2.9 million, the
current-expense fund about $2.8 million and the special fund about $395,000
from real-estate excise tax.

The county's regulations have been challenged by the Mason County Community
Development Council and Advocates for Responsible Development as well as the
Skokomish Tribe.

Baze said the board is "very disturbed that a vocal minority can shut the
county down." The county is attempting to plan under GMA, but petitioners
challenge whatever the county submits to the hearings board, Baze said.

"A vocal minority is driving growth-management issues, and it is a minority.
Every time they say, 'Jump,' we do because they know they will be listened
to by the hearings board," Haze said. "We're doing everything we can. We
want some reassurance the governor understands," he added.

The meeting, arranged by State Senator Tim Sheldon at the commissioners'
request, will begin at 4 p.m. January 17 in the governor's office.

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