Public hearing to remove planning commissioner canceled

A public hearing to remove Orcas Island planning commissioner Steve Smith was cancelled on May 17, the day the meeting was to be held.

“I move to remove the fourth public hearing for today,” council member Jamie Stephens said. Council member Cindy Wolf objected, pointing out that there were people who had traveled to testify, but Stephens continued: “After reviewing the information, I do not believe the hearing is necessary.”

Council member Christine Minney seconded the motion, stating that she also no longer believed a hearing was necessary.

During the April 19 regular San Juan County Council meeting, Wolf and David Williams, Director of Community Planning and Development, brought up complaints against Smith, ranging from him being warned twice verbally about discourteousness; inaccurately saying that water use isn’t tracked and spending too long discussing one topic; and that members of the Clean Water Advisory Committee felt insulted.

“[They have been reaching out to me] so they definitely felt the sting,” Wolf said during the council meeting, adding that there are legal requirements but she believed those had been met after a planning commission meeting on April 15.

According to RCW 36.70.110, after a public hearing, any appointed member of a commission may be removed by the board’s chair (with the board’s approval) for inefficiency, neglect of duty,or malfeasance in office.

Council members Stephens and Minney had not reviewed the information at that time but agreed to schedule the hearing for May 17.

“I hope that the county council will publicly recognize that the council was wrongly used as an instrument to defame someone. The council should defend its own reputation and that of the volunteers in the community,” Smith said, adding that Wolf owes both him and her colleagues an apology.