Lacey council debates land use procedure

January 22nd, 2010 by Ken

At a work session Thursday night, members of the Lacey City Council wrestled with appointments to boards and commissions. 

A minor revolt errupted through the newbies – Ron Lawson, Cynthia Pratt and Andy Ryder – over land use issues and what the role of the city council should be in developing land use policies.

For three years, the city has had a Finance, Economic Development and Land Use Committee.  Issues from those areas come to that committee to be worked out or refered to the full council.

At its retreat two weeks ago and at the meeting Thursday evening, Pratt insisted that Land Use be separated from Finance and Economic Development and be made a separate council committee.

When she ran for office, Pratt made land use and development one of her priorities.  In running for the city council, Pratt said, “I’m, running for a number of reasons, but primarily because I have seen Lacey develop without keeping up with services and starting to sprawl without utilizing existing areas.”

Her push to get more control over land use decisions was supported by both Lawson and Ryder.  They said that a large number of land use plans were coming due this year and had to be revamped.  They wanted to create a separate land use committee to deal with these land use plans.

City staff pointed out that the Planning Commission dealt with land use issues and the planning commission members were appointed by the council to do that work.

“Planning commission members are not elected officials,” Pratt said.  “Now the planning commission does everything and the result don’t get the full scrutiny of us, the elected officials.”

In the end, the council agreed to create a separate Land Use Committee on a trial basis.  They will revisit the decision in one year.   Appointed to the Land Use Committee were Mayor Tom Nelson, Deputy Mayor Virgil Clarkson and Pratt.

While council committee appointments took up the bulk of the time, apointments to 18 regional boards and commissions were also made.

Jason Hearn will be Lacey’s representative on the EMS Board, Mary Dean will represent Lacey on Intercity Transit and Pratt will represent the city on the LOTT.   (Those are the big three of regional bodies since they all have taxing authority of some kind.)

The only conflict arose when business owners Ryder and Hearn both wanted to be appointed as the city’s representative to the Economic Development Council.   Ryder had the appointment by the mayor and Hearn wanted it, pointing out that he has served as alternate for two years.  When the dust settled, Ryder still had the appointment and Hearn was still the alternate.

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