Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Newcomers appointed to replace longtime planning commissioners

The following appeared in the March 20, 2007 Jefferson County Edition of the Peninsula Daily News.

Newcomers appointed to replace longtime planning commissioners

By Evan Cael, Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND - Wednesday will be the first Jefferson County Planning Commission meeting after restructuring of the nine-member advisory commission, with two newcomers chosen over former commissioners.

On Friday, the three Jefferson County commissioners appointed to four-year terms Ashley Bullitt, of Port Townsend, for the District 1 seat - which had been held by Dennis Schultz, of Port Townsend - and Patricia Farmer, of Kala Point, for the District 2 seat - which had been held by Jim Hagen, of Cape George.

The terms of Shultz and Hagen expired on Saturday.

Both had applied for reappointment.

Wednesday's Planning Commission meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Washington State University Community Learning Center, Shold Business Park, 201 W. Patison St., Port Hadlock.
Bud Schindler of Brinnon, planning commission vice-chairman, will take over as chairman of the commission, beginning Wednesday, since Hagen had served as the commission chairman.

The county commissioners conducted interviews Friday with seven candidates - including Hagen and Schultz - in the Superior Court courtroom for the two seats.

The questions elicited some complaints on Monday.

Dragged through mud

Hagen said in an interview Monday that he felt chided by the commissioners.

"They could have taken the high road and honored our service," he said.

"They chose to drag us through the mud."

Commissioner David Sullivan, D-Cape George, said the questions asked of Hagen and Schultz may have been harsher than those asked of other applicants because the two incumbents had a history of Planning Commission decisions to inquire about.

"They had a record of four years to ask about," Sullivan said.

He said he was especially curious about why they had recommended going ahead with the Hadlock-Irondale urban growth area plan - which the Western Washington Growth Management Hearing Board found in 2004 to be noncompliant with the state Growth Management Act because of lack of an adequate facilities plan for sewage.

Port Townsend resident Al Frank accused the three commissioners - Sullivan, Phil Johnson, D-Port Townsend; and John Austin, D-Port Ludlow - of being unnecessarily harsh with the two incumbent planning commissioners and of failing to thank them for their thousands of hours of volunteer service during the interviews.

"Why put these guys through that?" Frank said.

"It was a complete charade," Frank told the county commissioners during the public comment period of Monday's commissioner meeting.

"It was just set up."

Sullivan said he didn't specifically thank Hagen and Schultz because the three commissioners decided to send a letter of thanks to each of the candidates for applying, and he thought that covered it.

New appointees

Bullitt has lived in Port Townsend for the past seven years.
Her family, which is responsible for the Bullit Foundation, has lived in the state since 1889, she said.

She said she will deal with each issue that faces the Planning Commission with flexibility.

"You can't serve the public well if you are inflexible," she said.

Bullit said Jefferson County residents made their voices heard in the November 2006 general election by electing Democratic candidates and with the failure of I-933.

"I'm in agreement with the voters of Jefferson County," she said.

Farmer has lived in Jefferson County since 1993, when she became a master gardner.

"I didn't look at it as a political appointment at all," Farmer said.
"I don't look at it as a black and white thing at all, and I think that's one of the reasons I was picked."

Along with serving as commission chairman, Hagen had also served as chairman of the Planning Commission's critical areas subcommittee that has been working on a revised ordinance for critical environmental areas  since August.

It has not yet been established how the critical areas subcommittee will be affected by the Planning Commission member restructuring.

Sullivan said that both the two new appointees are members of the same political party that he is a member of.

Shultz and Hagen are Republicans.


Reporter Evan Cael can be reached at 360-385-2335 or evan.cael@peninsuladailynews.com.


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