Repeal effort gets new blow

2nd judge makes Critical Areas Ordinance ruling

By Kyle Orten, Peninsula Daily News

Clallam County, WA - September 20, 2001 -Superior Court Judge George L. Wood declared the move to place the repeal of the Critical Areas Ordinance on the Nov. 6 general election ballot unnecessary Wednesday, echoing a Tuesday summary judgment declaring the measure void.

            “Frankly, it would be a waste of time if the initiative has been ruled invalid,” Wood said.

            Sequim property-rights activists Bob Forde and John Bennett faced off against Clallam County Civil Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Chris Melly over the issue Wednesday.

            It was the second consecutive day Forde and Melly sparred over repealing the ordinance, which governs development near streams, wetlands and slide areas.    

Charter basis?

            Bennett argued that the Clallam County Charter allows for the ballot action.

            “I see nothing in the charter that would say this initiative is out of order,” Bennett said.  “It lists no exception such as this.”

            Melly disagreed and referred to testimony and ruling offered Tuesday.

            Much of Bennett’s repeal argument – as well as his recall effort against Commissioner Steven Tharinger, D-Sequim – is based on Section 8.5 of the county charter.

            That section requires commissioners to consider a proposed ordinance, hold a public hearing and then adopt or reject the petition on a roll call vote, Bennett said.

            In his ruling, Wood said commissioners had followed the process and gave consideration to the petition, but questioned its legality.

            Wood is the second judge to offer an opinion about whether or not the measure should be put on the general election ballot.

            On Tuesday, Pro Tempore Judge William Knebes ruled the repeal was “void” because it conflicts with state regulations as required under the state Growth Management Act.

            Despite the two rulings, however, Forde and Bennett say they will take their case to the state Supreme Court.

            “I’m fully convinced the Supreme Court will give us the right to put it on the ballot,” Bennett said.

            Forde agreed.

            “I don’t know what the virtue of an appeal would be. We are definitely going to appeal (Tuesday’s) action,” Forde said, referring to the Knebes’ decision.

            Bennett said he strongly disagrees with both rulings.

            “We’ve lost our republic when we read words that are as clear as day and they have no meaning,” Bennett said. “ It breaks my heart to see our republic in such a state.”

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