Comprehensive Plan Review Process Warrants Caution

Mary Ausmus attended the October 7th County Court to question my public comments in the previous meeting.  Specifically, why should the County Court wait until after the 2016 elections to review our County Comprehensive Plan?

My short answer was to involve more people.  For the sake of discussion, however, a broader explanation was warranted.

I support a review of the Comprehensive Plan.  As we will have a new Judge and at least one new Commissioner, it would be the best training possible for new members of our Court.  After all, it will be their job to implement.  Should they not have some say in its contents? 

Complicating the issue is the funding source.  As I outlined in a letter dated 8-25-15, the funding source was offered by visiting representatives of the Strategic Plan for the Land Conservation and Development (LCDC).    As that letter explained, “initially there is an offer of $30-40,000 and technical assistance to help us review our comprehensive plan, with the expectation from LCDC that the planning process would “hit middle ground”  on limiting conflicting uses.   The process would have to compare and contrast our current comprehensive plan with their Administrative Rule.   “Simplistically worded there would have to be findings of equivalence,” stated Director Jim Rue.  More money can be available by the first week in January for consultants, overtime for our local planner, bird biologist, etc.”  This is the same outfit that, along with ODF&W, has brought us the Sage Grouse Rules.

This is dangerous ground.  As former District Manager for the Harney Soil and Water Conservation District, I am aware that the State likes nothing better than to have Counties conform.   Planning enablers like to use other counties plans as templates.  Why reinvent the wheel?

Why?  Possibly because of the impact the decisions have on citizens lives.  Because each county is unique.  And because the cookie cutter has been one of the most lethal tools of Land Use Planning in growing governmental dominance over private property.

Our Commissioners were won over with the statement that “the County will not have to approve the Plan if they do not like the results.”  IF you really believe that LCDC involvement will be harmless, that “lame duck” commissioners have no interest in influencing future policy, that new commissioners do not need to be involved, that months of work will be discarded if the result is not in the interest of the citizens……….THEN……Neverland is just past the second star to the right!