Over a dozen citizens packed the auditorium at the public Service Building Tuesday night to voice their support or opposition to changes to the county's proposed rural residential ordinance.I hope to have some more documentation on the whole "aquifer recharge zone" thing soon. When I said the science was indefensible, I meant that as this point, the "aquifer recharge zone" on buttes is still just a theory, that won't be proven until at least December. The county commissioners are staking our whole future on a science experiment.
Many in the crowd though the low attendance was due to spring planting season.
"This is a very poor time to have this meeting," said Colfax farmer Tom Barlass. "Our crops are much more important than anything else right now."
Spokane resident Robert Zorb, who owns farm land in the county, also chastised the timing.
"You picked the worst time of the year and the worst time of the day to the people you;re affecting in here," said Zorb.
If it's really that important, you would think more people would make an effort to come," Commissioner Greg Partch said after the hearing.
Barlass, who spoke at the December public hearing, again asked commissioners about weed control in buffer zones.
"I don't want a 200-foot set aside with thistles blowing over to my side," he said.
Barlass also asked about the Avista power poles.
"You can't stop them from building on top of a hill, but you can stop me?" he asked.
Pullman City Supervisor John Sherman spoke on behalf of the city, reiterating its desire to have a one-mile buffer from development around Pullman.
Sherman said Pullman housing has become unaffordable for some, and opening development in the county would be helpful, but wanted to make sure the city has room to expand.
"I asked for it in May, and again in December," said Sherman. "Leaving that room for the city to grow would increase the tax base for both the city and the county."
Zorb said commissioners "had their car in reverse."
"You're not creating anything," he said. "You're below zero growth." [In two other stories in the Gazette, it was reported that first quarter 2007 building permits hit a five-year low and that the county was facing a million dollar budget deficit- tf]
"Read your history," said Zorb. 'The first thing a government does before going to communism is to take away your land rights."
Lucille Linden spoke on behalf of the League of Women Voters. She voiced the league's support of the ordinance, and asked that it not be altered for one year if it is implemented to gauge any impacts it may have.
Elberton resident Pete Lazzarini questioned how much public input commissioners factored in the code.
"Your time would be well spent finding out what the people who voted you in want," said Lazzarini.
"I know you want to get this off the table, but let's take our time and get it absolutely right."
LaCrosse farmer Tedd Nealey also voiced support for the ordinance's revisions.
"What do we want to leave our kids and grandkids," he asked. "I want to keep my farm."
Nealey urged commissioners to implement the revisions as soon as possible.
"It's time we get this document in place and move on," he said. "Once we start there's no going back."
The planning department will receive written comments until 5 p.m. next Tuesday. Commissioners have promised a decision for April 30 during their regular board meeting.
Monday, April 23, 2007
"Public hearing: Ag zone foes voice objections"
From the April 19 edition of the Whitman County Gazette: