Belfair, WA: County asks committee to plan only part of the Belfair UGA; scraps committee's own "Scope of Work" for an abbreviated version. 

Some committee members don't appreciate the bully-like approach.

Belfair Subarea Planning Committee Meeting
July 16, 2002
Notes by Mary Swoboda


BACKGROUND: The Belfair Subarea Planning Committee was established by the Mason County Commissioners one year ago. During that year, a Scope of Work document was prepared and approved by the entire committee. Brent Bahrenburg (Office of Trade and Economic Development) included that Scope of Work in a grant, which was subsequently approved. At a hastily called and unpublicized meeting on July 9, the chairman introduced a newly written, scaled-down Scope of Work that virtually eliminated all planning outside of the core downtown area. This caused some members of the committee to feel that the hard work and effort they had put into the original Scope of Work was being arbitrarily replaced by the one written by the chairman and county personnel.


Ron Henrickson, Community Development Director, Mason County
Bob Fink, Planning Manager, Mason County, Co-chairman
Brian Petersen, Chairman
Harry Martin
Dave Overton
Fran Abbott
Ken VanBuskirk
Valerie McLeod
Steve Clayton
Dan Teeters
Jack Johnson
Brig Lohman
Lee Swoboda


Dave Overton distributed copies of the report by the League of Women Voters titled, “Costs and Impacts of the 101 Connector/Belfair Bypass Study.”


Brian Petersen said he and Ron Henrickson talked to Brent Bahrenburg (Office of Trade and Economic Development, prior to this meeting about funding and ways to move forward as a committee.


A letter from the County Commissioners (dated July 16, 2002 ) was distributed to all committee members dictating the direction in which the county wants the committee to proceed. In part, the letter says, “In order to get the planning process underway, it is suggested that the Scope of Work be phased to first focus on completion of the future land demand study and commercial core, and secondly, in phase two, to address land uses and development regulations within the balance of the urban growth area. ... We ask the committee to support this approach which will enable the planning effort to continue forward at this time.”


Ron Henrickson gave a general overview of funding and local participation. He thanked the committee members for "giving your time and effort. We hate the see that momentum lost. We hate to see your efforts delayed any longer, so we looked for a context that would allow the group to move forward. What we concluded, or discussed, is the idea of phasing the projects. By phasing we mean basically dividing the project into essentially two phases. The first phase would focus on a future land demand study to get the statistics for future land demand, and also focus on the core downtown commercial area, which has to be addressed irregardless of what is done in the rest of the UGA. The second phase would kick in after the land demand study was available and would look at land uses within the greater Urban Growth Area (UGA) beyond the commercial core."


Continuing, Ron Henrickson said, "We discussed this, as Brian mentioned, with Brent, who thought that was a very feasible approach; it's been used in other communities and makes sense. The commissioners are also supportive of that approach as well. The next step is to get your opinion as a committee.” The county says this is "logical" and expects the committee will "undoubtedly want to have the results of the future land demand study prior to considering land uses within the greater UGA." The county expects the committee to comply with its position for "the planning effort to continue forward at this time."


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Government is not reason, it is not eloquence – it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master! George Washington
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Lee Swoboda asked, "How can we plan half of the UGA with no idea how the other half will look like?"


Ron Henrickson: "I don't believe the issue is going to be primarily land use within the area that is primarily commercial now. So the question really becomes what provisions for the community and for the downtown center do you want to deal with? How do you handle pedestrian traffic? What kind of standards are you going to impose on buildings? What kind of signage are you going to impose? All those questions relate to downtown irregardless of what land use is done outside of it."


Some committee members were concerned that use in the downtown core seemed to be restricted to commercial only. What about residential use? Condos?


Brig Lohman said, "You need people living in the commercial core."


Brian Petersen said, "Call it the downtown plan then."


Bob Fink said the committee will be very constrained about what you do downtown. It wasn't seen to be a monoculture. It will be mixed use. Development is happening in the downtown core right now. Establishing regulations seems like a reasonable place to use this committee's efforts. The county does not want to move forward on the other part of the UGA until the transportation issue is resolved.


Dave Overton asked, "What CAN'T we do over the entire UGA?


Ron Henrickson: I’d rather discuss what we can do in phase 1.


Ken VanBuskirk said it is unrealistic to only plan part of the UGA. We're to be a subarea planning committee for the entire area. We can identify areas that can be developed, identify wetlands. The stakeholders are residents, business owners, land owners and users.


Brian Petersen: We still would do these things, just later.


Brig Lohman: I don't agree we should stop until the transportation issue is resolved. We know what kind of land use will go along the bypass. It is best to continue on. If we can make decisions on 80-90% of the UGA, we should do that.


Valerie McLeod: Explain to me in simple terms why we can either go ahead with Phase 1 or do nothing.


Ron Henrickson: The agreement between the county and the Overtons does not allow the county to zone land in roughly 80% of the buildable land outside of the core area. The county doesn't have the ability to zone that land because it is designated as mixed use. If the committee zones and plans for up on the hill it could end up a waste of your time.


Dave Overton: Mixed use zoning isn't that bad.


Brian Petersen read aloud an email he received from Brent Bahrenburg supporting the concept of a phased approach. This email was not copied or shared with the rest of the members of the committee.


Steve Clayton said it's good for developers to know what's coming down the line.


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“For most of our nation’s history, people could make plans. For the most part, they could expect today’s laws to be tomorrow’s laws; hence, they could plan for the future. Today that’s not true.” Walter E. Williams
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Jack Johnson: Lots of people own property outside those boundaries. Not everything happens at the same time. You have to work in a certain order. There are always problems that occur on projects. A lot of these problems a good consultant will deal with. A lot of people who develop property may not be the current owners of the property.


Brig Lohman: The property on the hill is already zoned as mixed use. Sounds like it's zoned to me.


Dave Overton: The reason why the Overtons have a development agreement is we made an exchange; we gave up something. It was an exchange of zoning for an option to do something with the property in the future. Handing out a copy of the committee’s original Scope of Work plan that was approved by the Office of Trade and Economic Development, Dave Overton said the committee should divide the work into phases based on the original plan.


Ron Henrickson: I'm trying to find a way to move the process forward. If the whole committee chooses not to move forward, then we won't.


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Government is the only institution in American society that can force people to do things. We don't accept force from any other quarter. But Americans accept it too willingly from government. Therefore, clearly, government poses the gravest threat to individual rights and personal freedom. Joseph Farah, editor, World Net Daily
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Brian Petersen pleaded with the group, “Please don't perceive that we're not going to address the whole UGA just because we're starting with downtown.”


Ron Henrickson: Theoretically we can plan, but it does no good to plan if you can't implement it. This is work. If we expect committee members to work and then the county doesn't implement it, it's not fair to you.


Fran Abbott: We're getting stuck on semantics. You're [the county] telling us what we can and can't do. It makes our hackles go up. Dave [Overton] has been put in a bad light.


Dan Teeters: I don't want to wait another 14-15 years to have an agreement. Let's continue on. Let’s look at the phasing.


Jack Johnson: Plan for the town without a bypass.


Brig Lohman: We should determine the core village and spiral out. We're getting hung up on the second phase.


Steve Clayton: We should paint the broad-brush strokes first. Why can't we use our original Scope of Work as an RFP (Request For Proposal)?


Brian Petersen: Because the county is unwilling to do it this way and it would be a waste of our time.


Valerie McLeod: I think the bypass will go through, but it won't solve the problem. We need a middle lane downtown.


Ron Henrickson: I don't say I know what's coming out the end. I know how much work this is.


Valerie McLeod: Will the county really pay attention to what we say and do what we'd like done?


Ron Henrickson: The commissioners’ intent is to adopt the majority view that comes out of this process, which means to involve the community and build consensus. I do not have any preconceived ideas of the outcome. This is a serious commitment from the county. I'm committed, the county is committed. This will change the face of Belfair over the next couple decades.


Referring to a map of the Belfair UGA, Ken VanBuskirk asked who drew the yellow lines on the map.


Ron Henrickson: We worked with Gary Yando. That area within those yellow lines can be sewered. Sewers make a big difference in revitalization and redevelopment.


Ken VanBuskirk: Maybe we should do this concurrently. See if we get a sewer grant in place. What we do in this committee drastically affects land use.


Dave Overton: Why is Iron Horse Crossing outside the yellow line?


Ron Henrickson: Those lines aren't drawn in concrete; it was just for this committee to see.


Dave Overton: Can you clarify?


Brian Petersen: Everything on here will be covered.


Ron Henrickson: It doesn't serve any useful purpose. I am more interested in whether this committee will proceed as outlined in the letter from the commissioners.


Jack Johnson: If we agree to go with the Phase 1/Phase 2 approach, would we have input on the scope of it?


Ron Henrickson: The County is a partner here. This is a valuable piece of work that will have an impact. You've got to start someplace.


Lee Swoboda: The original Scope of Work this committee developed and approved should be divided into two phases: the stuff we can do without an Overton/County resolution and stuff that needs to wait. Included should be a trigger for phase 2, which would be the resolution of the Overton/County dispute.


Brig Lohman: Either resolution or nonresolution should be the trigger for phase 2.


Steve Clayton: There is no obligation by the county to build the road.


Ron Henrickson proposed that Brian Peterson and county personnel revise the Scope of Work.


Although it was recommended that they work from the original Scope of Work, it is not clear if the new Scope of Work (which was developed outside the purview of the committee) will be the one that is revised.


Ron Henrickson: You have a regular meeting in a month. Three or four of you could volunteer to act as a little subcommittee so that when we get a draft we can at least float it by the subcommittee to get some initial feedback.


Valerie McLeod: I don't agree with that. The whole committee needs to review it.


Brian Petersen: How about if we send the draft out on email?


Committee members found this acceptable.


Committee members talked about when the next meeting would be and it was brought to their attention that this meeting and the last meeting had not been publicly announced in advance of the meetings.


Brian Petersen said he would talk to the Belfair Herald and get this straightened out.


Opportunity for the public to speak:


Mary Swoboda asked Ron Henrickson, "If this committee balks at what the county wants them to do, will the county do to this committee what it appears they did to the planning commission and the shorelines advisory board? Committee members had a different view than the county on the GMA issue and right after that the county abolished the two committees. It may not be the case, but by all appearances, that's the way it looks to a lot of people.


Ron Henrickson: I can't speak for the commissioners. I can tell you that the committees were merged because the shorelines were merged into the comprehensive plan and therefore it became far more efficient to deal with one committee than deal with two committees and go through simultaneous reviews. I think one of the commitments the commissioners had was to try to make government more streamlined, simpler and easier. That's not an easy task given the GMA basically complicates it. Where we can find ways to make things work better, we're trying to make those decisions to make it better.


Mary then asked why there are only seven people on this planning commission rather than nine--three from each commissioner district.


Ron Henrickson: That I can't speak to. They can choose five, seven or nine. I think they chose seven because ... I don't know why.


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We trained hard--but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form into teams, we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by reorganizing. And what a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency and demoralization. Gaius Petronius Arbiter, First Century
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Dave Overton made a motion that the chairmanship be a one-year term.


Lee Swoboda seconded the motion.


There was no discussion. The chairman adjourned the meeting with no action taken on the motion and no date set for the next meeting.


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Washington State Constitution
ARTICLE I, SECTION 1: All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights.
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"Uncommonly good sense"

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