A recent Guest editorial “Expecting More from Our County” has created more confusion than clarity. There are two parts to the situation described by Shireene Hale. The first is a lawsuit filed against the County over a public records request which will be settled in court or by a settlement at later date. The second part involves the county code with respect to wetlands and permit applications. Ms. Hale’s editorial reflects her opinion and interpretation of the code and its implementation. But the outcome in this case; granting of a building permit, would have been the same regardless of the process because the development site was outside any wetland buffer as confirmed by the Department of Ecology.
One job of the County government and staff at all levels is to correctly administer land use rules. The voters of San Juan County adopted a charter that gives direct authority to the County Council and we in turn have authorized the County Manager to directly supervise county departments. Our manager works to make this relationship as open as possible. This event helped clarify how this kind of development near a wetland is best handled. The Council, County Manager, and Community Development learned from this event and will continue work to improve policies and procedures.
San Juan County Council Member
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