February 7, 2012
To the editor:
Under the Council's proposed Critical Areas Ordinance, applicants will be required to navigate a complex set of rules and restrictions to get the County's approval for the use of their land. Applicants will have to prove they will not "impact" the environment with the "development" they propose on their land and implement expensive "mitigation" of the theoretical impacts.
In the draft Ordinance being written by the Council's planning staff the rules are vague, with the "Director" being given the final authority to decide on the approval or denial of a citizen's permit application. Under the proposed ordinance, the unelected Director becomes the most powerful and authoritative person in the permitting process. Lets hope the County has a Director with the wisdom of Solomon--not likely, based on recent past experience.
When it comes to balancing the CAO with other normal planning goals such as housing, the economy, transportation or property rights of citizens, only the natural environment is important to the Council majority. Nothing else matters. There has never been a serious attempt to see how the CAO proposals would play out against the other requirements of GMA.
As citizens, we should be asking our elected officials to balance and consider all the interests of island residents, not just the narrow agendas of a small contingent of environmentalists.