So we're all outlaws now.
Whatcom County has had 14 years to get its Rural Element in shape, but it can't seem to manage. The Council just blew off its state deadline, which was Tuesday, March 29. It will get around to finishing the job one of these days.
The Herald reported on Tuesday's County Council hearing, and I thought that the article left out a few things. Like the fact that most of the people who spoke were there to testify, eloquently and respectfully, that the Council really needs to consider the cost of sprawl, the effect of sprawl on the environment, and the fact that the County's proposal would hurt agriculture.
That was one of the best moments of the night, by the way. A spokesperson for the Building Industry Association stood up and said that she spoke for farmers. She spoke for farmers, because she spoke for Henry Bierlink (Farm Friends), and Henry speaks for farmers, and all farmers are happy with the County's proposal. That, she said, was why no farmers had shown up.
Then came a farmer. John Steensma, who owns a dairy farm outside Lynden, reminded the Council that his business is to provide food. If -- as currently proposed -- buildings of unlimited size can be built right up to farmers' property line, the farmers' businesses will be hurt.
Very few property owners and property rights advocates testified, because they didn't need to -- they got everything they wanted in the Council's proposal.
But the mere fact that citizens suggested that some factors other than property rights should be considered appeared to upset Council members Tony Larson and Bill Knutzen. Larson went off on an anti-property-rights, anti-government rant that caused the person in front of me to wonder "When did this turn into a Tea Party rally?" Knutzen jumped in to agree wholeheartedly with Larson.
Speaking of outlaws, Tony Larson apparently believes that we should ignore state law. A big part of his speech involved declaring that the Growth Management Hearings Board doesn't need to be taken seriously.
Did more experienced County personnel step in and say "Whoa, buddy, you're way out of line here"? Heck no. Sam Crawford said "Ordinarily we don't allow applause, but that was passionate."
I don't want to live in an anarchist state, so I wrote the Council some letters. One pertains to the Hearings Board (link is here), one follows up on the issue of public comments that I raised in the last post (link is here). I pondered not writing, since the Council undoubtedly sick of me, but silence didn't seem like a good option.
P.S. If the links don't work, try this and this.