The Yakima Planning Commission held a Public Hearing on Thursday, January 20, 2005 at 5:30 p.m. at the Yakima Convention Center

Call to Order:

Chair West called the meeting to order at 5:30 p.m.  Tonight’s hearing is to receive public testimony on the proposed changes to the existing Shoreline and Critical Areas Comprehensive Plan, Goals and Policies. Zella went through the Rules of Procedure.

Members present:  Lori Wheeler, Ed Burns, Gene Gamache, Zella West, Chuck Padorr, Tom Biehl, Nancy Charron

Staff present:  Ryan Hopkins, John Marvin, Terri Cyr, Dean Patterson, Steve Erickson

Staff Presentation:

Hopkins gave an overview of the public participation process to date, and the handouts available.  We are just past the halfway point on the public participation process.  From here, hope to have more meetings with interest groups to work out more details.  One of the goals tonight is for the Planning Commission to hear what the staff has already heard, and provide the public an opportunity to speak.  After hearing testimony tonight, the Commission will make their recommendations to the staff and passed on to the Commissioners for final adoption. Then we will start drafting the Ordinance.

West: We heard valuable input last night and truly appreciate your (the public) comments.  The Commission is very impressed with the level of input we received. The hearing is now open for public testimony.

Stuart Turner (here on behalf of Mensonides Dairy, Mabton) I’d like to begin by complimenting the Planning staff with the outreach program.  This Draft 2 represents a lot of the input.  My comments are related to buffers and stream typing referenced on Page 17.  Agriculture has been treated differently, this recognizes the reality.  Type 5 streams are nothing more than dry washes.  If you raise crops, you’re unrestricted.  But if you’re a CAFO, back to the 25’ buffer, which is significant.  It’s a wonderful opportunity – this document.  We’ve got to try and incorporate as many things that provide opportunities to the environment.  For everything you restrict on, there is a cost.  This ordinance is a positive thing that would allow us to either build new facilities, expand, create new jobs, the only way out of budget problems we have.  Benefit to society, and individual producers. 

John Hodkinson (Vice President of Governmental Affairs for Assoc of Realtors) presented his comments on paper for the Commission to read through.

Gene Jenkins presented his comments to the Commission. I am testifying on behalf of the Farm Bureau and myself.  Agriculture is the economic fiber of Yakima County. There are a number of problems with the BAS document.  Not allowing peer review is a big mistake in reviewing a document; also know of a lot of citations submitted to Planning that have not been included in the document.  Finally when the BAS document was made pubic thousands of citations and studies were submitted to Yakima County Planning for inclusion into the BAS document to date we do not know if they have been included or just thrown away.  I suggest rejecting the BAS document and reorganization of the science advisory panel.  Believe the buffers are a backdoor attempt to implement some types of ESA regulations within the County.  I believe the citations issued by Hendrix are more accurate.  Fallen thru the cracks with buffer issue, is legal liability.  Yakima County has failed to include Noxious Weed, and Washington State Noxious Weed in anything to do with buffers.   Concern with the word “lawfully” in describing agriculture. County has no authority in administering buffers and cannot exceed statutory authority.  Fish and wildlife section, restrictions on private property, urge the opposite approach be used.  Urge the Commission to reject this document, encourage the Planning Commission to remind planning staff who they are working for, and suggest formulation of a new science panel.

Dave Taylor:  Delivered his comments to the Commission. I ask that all written comments and testimony from last night be included as part of this record tonight.  We don’t believe this amendment meets the RCW definition.  Critical areas portion is not allowed outside the amendment process.  Staff has stuck to the idea that if the critical areas policies are tied to the shorelines policies, the way the law is, you can’t consider the goals and policies related to the critical areas.  In the update strategy, discussion on the Endangered Species Act, nothing in the SMP to implement anything on endangered species.  Give staff credit for bifurcating this process – put in place a process to be successful for passage with little argument of what it has to include.  Ask the PC to consider how best to address state and federal agencies dictating land use in this county. I would like to direct the staff for more changes to the Goals & Policies.  Suggest you have a draft CA Ordinance in front of you when reviewing, continue this hearing and keep the record open, and urge you to set a public hearing to consider C.A. ordinance presented to you by Preston Shepherd.

Zella:  the Planning Commission did ask the Planning staff to make public testimony from last night part of tonight’s record. 

Steve George: (Representing Hop Growers & Dairy Federation.) I manage two of the organizations that hired Mr. Taylor.  It is a burden on our organizations to go to this length to hire him, not easy or cheap, but feel it’s important to do.  We support our consultant.  Policies and goals of adoption without the review of an ordinance, is a concern.  County liability is a biggie.  Concerning the Science Advisory Group, our organization did not have faith in that process. Mandated buffers are not necessary. Wildlife buffers are a concern, should not be part of this process.  Urge you to put what’s practical back into this process.  Need to make change at grass roots level. 

Brian McGuire: (Representing AGC of Washington) In support of Preston’s proposal.  Preston’s proposal brings the best of both worlds together.  Have to have Ordinance that minimizes human impacts on critical areas.

Commission took a five minute break.

Wayne Kalbfleisch: Presented a packet for the Commission.  Packet contains last night’s presentations, presentation for tonight and handouts that are numbered referring to tonight.  Concerns about proposed ordinance, strategy, goals and policies.  I did review Preston’s document today, good document that will work for the county.  Strongly urge you to adopt this document.  In talking about staff proposed document:  Lots of gaps, goes beyond what’s required and still needs lots of work. Talked about the BAS document, and not using this document as the driving force when adopting critical areas regulations.  Mining does not create toxic contaminates as stated in the document, and does not change the acidity of the water. Wayne read thru Chapter 5, critical areas aquifer recharge, dealing with material stockpiles.  It does not make sense. In skimming this BAS document, so much that is going to affect citizens that they don’t have a clue about.  SMP references to mining, Wayne read thru.  Three different designations that mining can occur.  Shoreline uses handout, where you find mining standards – encourage that gets into the ordinance.  Looked at staff responses to public comments received earlier in the year, lots of questions were sidestepped to be worked out in the ordinance.  How do you ask more questions, if they don’t answer the other questions.  We were told by staff Goals & Policies document would be adopted tonight.  Encourage you not to adopt tonight.  Can’t understand the logic for its confusing nature.  I want to see the next draft ordinance before I comment further.

Mark Reynolds: (Representing WSDOT) I also have comments for the Board.  Generally, two items. Maintenance- WSDOT has concerns that activities are becoming more restrictive.  Counties charging for activities that are maintenance or exempt from shorelines.  Transportation system not being further burdened with time or fees is our concern.  Consider mitigation issues, adding language for administrative review for long lineal transportation projects. 

Frank Hendricks:  Citizen of Yakima County – BAS, really does bother me in reading thru it.  BAS in the grazing area, references were mis-referenced in the document. There are a lot of non-truths in that document.  Make the rules pertinent to Yakima County. 

Joe Walsh:  (representing CWHBA) We are concerned about the future economic development within these jurisdictions.  We are encouraged about what we’ve heard last two evenings on the alternatives.  Encourage due consideration of that alternative.  Support the deliveries you’ve heard tonight. 

Make Teske: (Fish & Wildlife) Read his letter into the record.  Draft reports, page 13, …encourage animal feedlots to locate out of shorelines, recommends stronger language here.    Page 14, discusses commercial timber harvest, level of harvest of zone closest to stream is hard to manage… area be looked at again.  Pages 25 & 26, more emphasis on restoring complexity of channels, gave examples.  Status of black cottonwoods as non-native referenced last night is inaccurate.  Fish and Wildlife recreation is valuable to Yakima County.  

Doug Maples (City of Yakima): Read letter into the record. Testimony for the policies governing CAO & SMP - this document will be the foundation for establishing CAO’s and SMP’s.  The two areas of land that will be affected are rural and urban.  Should be separate policies for each.  Urban and rural have different size parcels, could render them undevelopable.  Look at most parcels along Wide Hollow Creek, Ahtanum, with UGA, anywhere from 7,000 s.f. to an acre. The regulations will restrict those parcels from being developed.

Leslie Wall: (Conservation Chair of Audubon Society) Supports the preservation of natural conservation.  Importance of ecotourism is coming to this valley.  Audubon is involved with the birding trail development.  Thanks for meeting with our team personally as we were concerned with BAS also.  Look forward to seeing a draft, understand that buffers is a contentious issue. 

Frank Wessulius:  Heavy decisions in front of you - the staff proposal and the practical proposal from the community.  Comment on: 2.2 billion worth of hunting in the State of Washington, lots of livestock in the county also.  Putting feedlot on the river, MSU determined that streams that have livestock around them, have more fish in them.  Building feedlot across the river is illegal.  Comments about dredging of the rivers, checked, Naches River is very old, still working on that river.  Stopped dredging that river, now Naches River is over ¾ mile wide.  Management of the rivers can be mismanaged.  Economics of this valley has been by waterways.  Decision on how our lifestyle & wildlife can all exist together is a big decision you have.  Designation of urban and rural is a problem to understand in dealing with buffers, why the difference?  The water is the same whether designated urban or rural. 

Scott Nicolai: (Yakama Nation Fish & Wildlife) Disagree with the assertion that Yakima County has to decide between mining and natural resources.  Many places you can have both.  Cowiche Creek providing passage for steelhead, restoring an old run, sport fishery for a Coho, etc. Ahtanum Creek- voluntary screening for existing farming activities.  Kittitas County working with irrigation entity to use portion of their irrigation ditch.  Getting salmon back into places they haven’t been in 100 years.  We are making progress, has to do with ongoing activities.  Critical Areas is to manage new activities, and new growth.  The flood of 1996- people have forgotten – lots of lawsuits in Yakima County spent on repairing.  Assert that if we had SMP and CA Ordinance back then, avoided a lot of those damages and dollars spent.  Goals and policies document real work is after BOCC adopts G & P, staff will work with the public on re-writing CAO, etc.  County is using a document for a step in the right direction.  Riverine designation is a great idea. 

The public hearing was closed to public testimony at 7:35 p.m.

West:  I’d like to thank all of you for coming and testifying.  We are well aware of the consequences of our actions, as the recommendation body, and we take it very serious.  We’ve heard different viewpoints tonight.  Our goal is to find a balance between all of these portions. 

The Commission took a five minute break. 

West:  In answer to some of your questions, the Commission will not be making a decision tonight.  We will start deliberations next Wednesday at 5:30 in Room B-33 of the County Courthouse.  Start discussing information presented to us, give us time to read thru it all. 

Ed: I would like to make a motion that due to the complexity and lengthily technical data and testimony just recently presented at both the public meeting last night and the public hearing tonight, that the PC forgo detailed deliberations and immediately recommend to BOCC that they not take actions to approve the Proposed Changes to the Existing Shoreline and Critical Areas Comp. Plan 2015 Goals and Policies that are currently under consideration for the update; and, they remand the same back to us for further study and review.  Tom seconded.  We need a lot more time and input with the documents we have received the last two nights. 

Chuck:  Number of features relative to this motion.  Supportive of taking more time to review material.  BOCC hasn’t demanded anything of us yet, so there is nothing to remand back to us.  Try to convey to the BOCC the concerns we have however, on not acting swiftly.  With that in mind, suggest we communicate with the Board that with the extent of the material given to us, we need to review it thoroughly.  Give the Board a general timeframe to do that.   Like to hear from staff on additional information we might want to consider.

Ed:  It was my understanding the BOCC wanted us to make a recommendation on the Goals & Policies. 

Gene:  Keep in mind this is public record, any study we do on that we’ll do under deliberation guidelines.  We need more time.

Steve:  As with any controversial issue before the PC, the Board wants you to take the time you feel is needed to arrive at a recommendation you feel comfortable with.  Don’t believe the BOCC has timeframe in mind for when the policies come forward.  Not sure the motion is necessary.   We hear loud and clear there is a lot of work to do. 

Tom:  In light of Steve’s comments, sounds like we can take more time to review documents.  Not a need for the motion.

Nancy:  I agree.  Let’s take time to read the documents. 

Lori:  Based upon what we’ve heard the last two nights, motion is a good idea.  Very heartening that there hasn’t been one thing said by the public that we haven’t said ourselves.  Represent the best interests of Yakima County.

Ed:  The motion was seconded and passed.  Chuck opposed the motion, as he felt the motion wasn’t necessary.

Zella:  We will still start deliberations next Wednesday night, as stated before.  Bring up process check:  References to RCW, BAS, going to have questions to the people that presented them.  Have that opportunity if possible. 

Tom:  I’m in favor of staying on the conservative side, when it comes to guidelines that burden people in the private sector, if not required.  I need to read the material first.  Concern that we adopt something that we will make adjustments when we see the problems later.  To adjust after the fact, is difficult.  Approach this cautiously. 

Nancy:  Pleased to see the concerns and issues I have had since the beginning, with BAS.  Want to read the materials.  Take our time. 

Lori:  Take this process slowly and carefully.  We’ve had these concerns as well.  Show up and help us define questions and concerns.

Ed:  Process wise, after we go thru the documents, like to sit down with a small representative group that can represent divergent issues where we can go one on one.  Some ideas would be: Ag group represented – Dave Taylor, Home Builders/Realtors, Barbara Kitchens, Mining industry – Wayne.  Yakama Nations rep, F & W, DOE and a community member schooled in different ordinances, regulations, Jamie Carmody possibly.  Just examples of how our process could move along.  Doug Maples for an urban representative along with all the PC members and County staff at least 2 reps.  Talking about study sessions not deliberations.

Chuck:  Last 2 nights, we’ve been presented with comments regarding documents that have level of generality to them.  Approach was to create strategies then go forward. I seconded all the philosophies spoken tonight.  Support Ed’s ideas for the small group.  Concerned about how the generalities get laid out .

Steve:  This approach was intended to create a framework to work within.  Next step burrowing in on specific areas.  Hearing that you want the details to be worked through. 

Lori:  I head the public tell us that we have failed at this point.  Need to take serious look at what we’ve heard and how the public is struggling with the language and contact of what we’re doing.  How we would proceed, per Zella’s instructions, let’s go with that thought. 

Chuck:  Complicated process, public outreach has been great.  Last two nights is a way to build upon what has happened.  Do need to take responsibility to make sure we have these conversations.  Want to hear from a lot of people on these issues. 

Ed:  Ryan said we were 50% thru the project, and have done a lot of work in the last two years.  Still have a lot of work to do however. 

Chuck:  Limited as regards to hearing from other people – check on that issue.  Postpone deliberation process for that, needs resolution. 

Zella:  Need to find out if we are in the throws of deliberation, can we have questions for the people who’ve presented, or are we in deliberations mode?  Need a process check with the County Attorney. 

The hearing adjourned at 8:30 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Planning Commission