“Do As I Say … Not As I Do” Is Whatcom County about to Violate their Own Laws?

There is a little thing called the Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan. You know. That pesky thing that’s currently under review for consideration and official approval in June of 2016. Apparently some public employees think it is okay to ignore those pesky things within the Growth Management Act (GMA) and what is currently in our Whatcom County Comp Plan. Is it okay to ignore the current growth plan and pass a resolution to amend the Whatcom County Parks Plan? That does not pass the smell test of truth for local public policy and Growth Management Act expert, Jack Petree.

WC_Parks_UpdateWho doesn’t love parks? I love and use them, you love and use them, we all love and use them so, when anyone points out flaws in the Comprehensive Parks, Recreation, And Open Space Plan it’s easy to point at them and proclaim, “You must be the Grinch, why do you hate parks?”

Well, the fact of the matter is the Parks Plan before you is badly flawed and, frankly, each of you Council members should be offended that it is before you at all at this point.

Two years ago an updated parks plan was suddenly sprung on you and you were told (my paraphrase here), “We don’t have time for a proper public process here. We have to get this to the State right now or we will lose a pot full of money.” You rejected that idea then and you should reject it now. Issuing a plan in mid-January, bringing it to the council in the same month, and telling the council, “We’ve got to pass it now, it is compliant with the law, just trust us on that,” is disrespectful to the council and it is disrespectful to the public.

Regarding disrespect for your office and your sworn duty, notice that you are also being asked to overtly flaunt the laws of the State of Washington. The Parks Department is asking that “…the plan be adopted as a stand alone planning document and not as an element of the County Comprehensive Plan.” ~ Comments from Jack Petree to W.C. Council

By the way, it would be best if you presented it as coming from the public record as submitted by me than as coming from me…

This email thread comes from Jack Petree’s public testimony to the Whatcom County Council and submitted for the public record. This is an email thread which I have removed the personal contact and email address information of non-public officials to respect their privacy.

Petree Ltr to Council – 1 Petree Ltr to Council – 2 Highlights of Proposal – Brown WC Parks Proposed Changes

Here is the latest piece I sent the Council

TO:  Whatcom County Council, Whatcom County Planning Commission, Whatcom County PDS, Whatcom County Parks Director

RE:  Testimony submitted regarding AB2016 – 062 – The 2016 Comprehensive Parks and Recreation, Open Space Plan Public Hearing Of Feb. 9, 2016 – The 2016 Parks and Recreation Plan Cannot Be Adopted By Resolution – Further Discussion 2/9/16

Council, Commission, PDS and, Parks Director,

Three things are important in the following:

Mr. Personius claims; “The 2008 CPROS Plan was NOT specifically adopted by reference as part of the last GMA Comp Plan Update in 2009.”

Without subjecting you to yet another screen shot of the current Comprehensive Plan please note, the Comprehensive Plan you are bound to utilize differs in the first paragraph and elsewhere; “This chapter also adopts by reference the entire Comprehensive Parks and Recreation Open Space Plan…”  http://www.whatcomcounty.us/1171/Current-Comprehensive-Plan

Second, Mr. Personius tells you; “The language in current Comp Plan Chapter 9 is from the 1997 Comp Plan and specifically adopts the previously existing (at that time) 1989 CPROS Plan ONLY—not any subsequent updates.”

Really?  If that were the case, the Parks Department and the County Council has been violating the Comprehensive Plan for nearly two decades in the advice of PDS and your legal department.  Were you, at any time during your time in office, ever told on any issue that you could ignore the Comprehensive Plan because another plan adopted into it by reference has been updated?

Third, it remains, as I mentioned to you in my previous comment;  “The fact that the PRO plan is before you now is an especially egregious violation of public process in that the Parks Department and Planning and development services have had two years to engage the public in a proper process for a Comp. Plan amendment but, choose instead to pursue the same flawed process you rejected those two years ago!”

Regards,

Jack Petree   2955 Sunset Drive, Bellingham

From: bbrenner@co.whatcom.wa.us

To: bbgun1010@aol.com

Sent: 2/8/2016 2:06:24 P.M. Pacific Standard Time

Subj: FW: The county comp plan requires an ordinance for amendment

—–Original Message—–

From: Dana Brown-Davis <dbrown@co.whatcom.wa.us>

To: Barry Buchanan <BBuchana@co.whatcom.wa.us>

CC: Barbara Brenner <bbrenner@co.whatcom.wa.us>, Ken Mann

<kmann@co.whatcom.wa.us>, Rud Browne <RBrowne@co.whatcom.wa.us>, Todd Donovan

<TDonovan@co.whatcom.wa.us>, Satpal Sidhu <SSidhu@co.whatcom.wa.us>, “Carl

Weimer” <cweimer@co.whatcom.wa.us>

Subject: FW: The county comp plan requires an ordinance for amendment

Date: Mon, 8 Feb 2016 22:06:13 +0000

This information may be helpful to all.  FYI.

Dana

From: Mark Personius Sent: Monday, February 08, 2016 12:13 PM To: Dana Brown-Davis; Michael McFarlane Subject: RE: The county comp plan requires an ordinance for amendment

Here’s my answer, part of which was previously relayed to Council back in 2014….

Parks and Director McFarlane is proposing to adopt the 2016 proposed CPROS Plan as a departmental or functional plan to guide the Parks Department.  Procedurally, the 2016 CPROS Plan functions as an update to the 2008 CPROS Plan (the last one prepared). That is what is before Council at hearing on Feb. 9, 2016.  The 2008 CPROS Plan was NOT specifically adopted by reference as part of the last GMA Comp Plan Update in 2009. The language in current Comp Plan Chapter 9 is from the 1997 Comp Plan and specifically adopts the previously existing (at that time) 1989 CPROS Plan ONLY—not any subsequent updates. That is also why staff is proposing to delete that language adopting the 1989 CPROS Plan by reference from Chapter 9—Recreation Element of the Comp Plan as part of the 2016 Update. To make clear in the future, the separation of functional department plans adoption from GMA Comp Plan adoption/amendment requirements. So, Council “adoption” of the 2016 CPROS (as a departmental functional plan) does not require a GMA Comp Plan amendment (or ordinance).

Mark

From: Dana Brown-Davis Sent: Monday, February 08, 2016 11:34 AM To: Mark Personius; Michael McFarlane Subject: FW: The county comp plan requires an ordinance for amendment

Can one or both of you please answer Barry’s question?

Thank you.

Dana

From: Barry Buchanan Sent: Monday, February 08, 2016 11:28 AM To: Dana Brown-Davis Subject: Fwd: The county comp plan requires an ordinance for amendment

Is there anything to this claim?

Barry Buchanan

Councilmember, District 1

Whatcom County Council

311 Grand Avenue, Suite 105

Bellingham, WA  98225

360.676.6690

BBuchana@co.whatcom.wa.us

NOTICE:  All emails and attachments sent to and from Whatcom County are public records and may be subject to disclosure pursuant to the Public Records Act (RCW 42.56)

Begin forwarded message:

From: “Council” <Council@co.whatcom.wa.us>

To: “Barbara Brenner” <bbrenner@co.whatcom.wa.us>, “Barry Buchanan” <BBuchana@co.whatcom.wa.us>, “Carl Weimer” <cweimer@co.whatcom.wa.us>, “Forrest Longman” <FLongman@co.whatcom.wa.us>, “Ken Mann” <kmann@co.whatcom.wa.us>, “Rud Browne” <RBrowne@co.whatcom.wa.us>, “Satpal Sidhu” <SSidhu@co.whatcom.wa.us>, “Todd Donovan” <TDonovan@co.whatcom.wa.us>

Cc: “Dana Brown-Davis” <dbrown@co.whatcom.wa.us>, “Jill Nixon” <jnixon@co.whatcom.wa.us>, “Kristi Felbinger” <KFelbing@co.whatcom.wa.us>, “Marina Engels” <mengels@co.whatcom.wa.us>, “NaDean Hanson” <nhanson@co.whatcom.wa.us>

Subject: FW: The county comp plan requires an ordinance for amendment

From: Jack Petree [mailto:tradewrld@comcast.net]

Sent: Monday, February 08, 2016 10:41 AM

To: Council; PDS; PDS_Planning_Commission

Subject: The county comp plan requires an ordinance for amendment

Council members,

Below, for your convenience, and attached, is testimony to the effect that the parks resolution before you is inappropriate, an ordinance is required

TO:  Whatcom County Council, Whatcom County Planning Commission, Whatcom County PDS, Whatcom County Parks Director

RE:  Testimony submitted regarding AB2016 – 062 – The 2016 Comprehensive Parks and Recreation, Open Space Plan Public Hearing Of Feb. 9, 2016 – The 2016 Parks and Recreation Plan Cannot Be Adopted By Resolution

Council, Commission, PDS and, Parks Director,

Once again, the Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan adopts Whatcom County’s Parks and Recreation (PRO) Plan into the Comprehensive Plan.  As such, adoption of a new or amended PRO plan is an amendment to the Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan.

The PRO plan is on your agenda as a Resolution.

Whatcom County Code does not allow an amendment to the Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan to be adopted by Resolution; the Code requires amendments be adopted by Ordinance.

2.160.100 Review and evaluation of comprehensive plan amendments – County council.

  1. Comprehensive plan amendments, except for amendments adopted by emergency ordinance pursuant to Section 2.40 of the Whatcom County Charter, shall be adopted by ordinance after a recommendation by the planning commission has been submitted to the council for consideration. All initiated amendments to the comprehensive plan with the exception of amendments set forth in WCC 2.160.010<http://www.codepublishing.com/WA/WhatcomCounty/#%21/WhatcomCounty02/WhatcomCounty02160.html#2.160.010> shall be considered by the council no more frequently than once a year and concurrently so the cumulative effect of the various proposals can be ascertained. The council may schedule such additional public hearings as the council deems necessary to serve the public interest.
  1. If, after deliberating, the council believes the public interest may be better served by departing from the recommendation of the planning commission on an initiated amendment, the council shall conduct a public hearing on that amendment.
  1. The council shall decide to approve, approve with modifications or deny comprehensive plan amendments based upon the approval criteria in WCC 2.160.080<http://www.codepublishing.com/WA/WhatcomCounty/#%21/WhatcomCounty02/WhatcomCounty02160.html#2.160.080>. Those amendments may be recommended for final concurrent review throughout the year. Final concurrent review by the county council should occur on or about February 1st.
  1. The council shall send recommended comprehensive plan amendments on to final concurrent review by December 31st. Amendments that have not been either recommended or denied by the council by December 31st will be re-docketed for the next amendment cycle with the same number with which they were initially docketed. (Ord. 2008-060 Exh. A).

The fact that the PRO plan is before you now is an especially egregious violation of public process in that the Parks Department and Planning and development services have had two years to engage the public in a proper process for a Comp. Plan amendment but, choose instead to pursue the same flawed process you rejected those two years ago!

I wish I could attend your committee meetings and the hearing on this matter Feb. 9th but I am required to be out of town.  Thank you for your time and attention.

Jack Petree / 2955 Sunset Drive – Bellingham

[cid:28654484-B650-445E-9227-DDF19A057AD7] [cid:4BD80844-7AA8-4EEF-AEE2-7056C6A046AF]

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2 comments

  1. I find it interesting that in our current council finds adhering to the law is a strange concept. Especially when it comes to parks. Way back in the time of the “Reconveyance” the county council played loose with grant funds and their stipulations. So I guess they might as well take it to the next step. There are only two reasons I can see for avoiding the public process normally required. (1) You don’t need to hear from the public when you have no intention of the public ever being able to use these parks lands. (2) You don’t want to hear from the public when you are doing something illegal.
    Either way this does not bode well for the tax paying citizens of Whatcom County.

  2. If our public leaders would spend even half-as-much of their public time focused on growing Cherry Point, improving the environment for the existing businesses and future business growth; as they have on regulating, taking, buying, and promoting Whatcom County as the recreational diamond of the Northwest…think about all of that opportunity lost because of the agenda from outsiders who “love Whatcom County so much they cannot wait to changer her.”

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