Islands' Sounder


Support of Blanchard appointment | Letter

March 1, 2013 · Updated 11:42 AM

It may be old news now, but the Democrat Party Treasurer and husband of Planning Commission member, Susan Dehlendorf, along with two Democrat Precinct Committee members are upset that, by unanimous vote, the county council appointed Orcas resident, Tim Blanchard, to the Planning Commission.

One of the complaints is that the council appointment did not technically follow the letter of the charter. Maybe so, but minor appointment technical problems also exist for the planning commission appointees Bob Gamble, Karin Agosta and Barbara Thomas. Oddly, only the Blanchard appointment seems to be of concern.

Dehlendorf complains that because Mr. Blanchard is a board member of Common Sense Alliance, a citizen group that has filed Petition for Review of the Critical Areas Ordinance with the Growth Management Hearings Board, he should be disqualified from serving on the planning commission.

A Petition for Review is not a lawsuit as Dehlendorf wrongly claims. The GMHB is a governor-appointed panel that hears petitions from the public on issues specific to the Growth Management Act. Petitions for Review have also been sent to the GMHB by the Friends of the San Juans, and the San Juan Builders Association.

It would be unconstitutional to disqualify a citizen from serving as a volunteer on a county panel because he or she is a member of an organization that filed an appeal with the GMHB. Members and staff of the Friends of the San Juans serve on a variety of county panels. Apparently this association is not a problem, but being associated with Common Sense Alliance is.

Finally there is the silly complaint that the appointment of Mr. Blanchard somehow creates an “unbalance” on the Planning Commission. With his appointment, the Planning Commission’s liberal Democrat tilt or “balance” remains unchanged. There are four members who generally believe islanders require more regulation and closer supervision. At least three members have good common sense ideas about county planning. The final two commission members tend to be in the philosophical “center-left” on most issues.

John Evans

Orcas Island

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