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PLANNING COMMISSION CHAIR TRIVIALIZES PUBLIC HEARING



Road signs at Yelm intersection of SR 507 & 510
Photo courtesy of Yelm-based photographer Guustaaf Damave

Nisqually Valley News reporter Sam Chrest penned for the August 24 edition about the Public Hearing updating the Comprehensive Plan (Aug. 20) by quoting only Planning Commission Chair Glen Cunningham. I find curious that Mr. Chrest was not at the Comp. Plan Hearing, nor did he report any other views from the public who did attend the session, which he could have gathered from the recording of the meeting. This story was a one-sided mouthpiece for Mr. Cunningham and while Mr. Chrest may still be teething in his new assignment at the NVN, this kind of cursory journalism is consistent with this newspaper.

Further, the way Mr. Cunningham brushed aside the Public Hearing and the citizens’ comments in this story is appalling! And this is from the Yelm Planning Commission Chair?

Let’s take a look at Mr. Cunningham’s remarks in the NVN and put them in context:

“…The plan must be updated periodically to meet Growth Management Act standards, said Planning Commission Chairman Glen Cunningham.

‘We have to do this every once in awhile to meet state, law,’ he said.
The primary proposed changes to the plan are amendments to the capital facilities and transportation chapters.

The changes are largely altering the wording and providing more current information about the city, Cunningham said.

He said there are no major changes to the plan.

‘It is just some stuff we have to update,’ he said.”

“IT’S JUST SOME STUFF WE HAVE TO UPDATE?”
WHO IS THIS MAN KIDDING?!
The specific mandate of the Comprehensive Plan is to “reflect the preferences of the community.”
This is not just some “stuff we have to update.” State law requires public input.

This Plan dictates the policies the city is to follow about its roads – a Plan currently written that accepts a failed grade with the worst road conditions possible, allowing the traffic mess we have today.
Mr. Cunningham may say “there are no changes to the plan,” however the city must consider the public comments, of which there were several.

Continuing from the NVN,
“At the public hearing, only three people provided testimony, he said.

Often, he added, Planning Commission meetings draw little or no audience.

‘Generally there are not a lot of people,’ he said. ‘Some of those who do come say things they don’t know anything about.'”

EXCUSE ME?
That may be Mr. Cunningham’s view, however a professional engineer and a former mayoral candidate with a Masters degree in Business Administration (MBA) were two providing testimony, individuals that do not “say things they don’t know anything about.”
The Planning Commission’s number one job is to listen to the public, regardless of the judgments of Mr. Cunningham about public understandings. They are appointed by the Mayor specifically to serve the public.
Mr. Cunningham’s lack of knowledge when addressing people is quite evident, which is frustrating for the citizens that do participate, as many feel brushed aside by the blank stares of incomprehension of some on the Commission.
No wonder so few attend these meetings – and of course they are timed during working hours (4PM) for most constituents – hardly providing availability for true public interchange.

Continuing from the NVN story:
“The testimony from the hearing will be addressed in a staff report, Cunningham said.

Updating the Comprehensive Plan is a large task spanning several months, he said.

‘It takes quite a bit of time and effort,’ he said.”

FROM JUST WHERE IS MR. CUNNINGHAM COMING?
He said there are no major changes to the plan, dismissing those with
“It’s just some stuff we have to update.”
Then he says it’s “a large task spanning several months…” “It takes quote a bit of effort.”

Mr. Cunningham discounts the changes on the one hand, then speaks of the time and effort involved on the other, all while trivializing public input.

The Public Hearing garnered many comments that requires the Planning Commission to address, chief among them is the city accepts failed roads as official policy which is a detriment to public safety, for which the city bears responsibility to maintain.
The Planning Commission heard that having this as official city policy is unacceptable and demands that this must be changed.

The remarks in the newspaper from Mr. Cunningham are an embarrassment to the city and to those drivers enduring daily gridlock on Yelm’s failed streets.

You can read all of my testimony to Mr. Cunningham and his Planning Commission by scrolling down this page to the August 20 entry here on this blog.

Further, my Letter to the Editor published in the same newspaper edition beseeches everyone to write City Hall and let them know you do not accept Yelm streets with a Level of Service (LOS) grade of F as official city policy, the way the plan is currently written. Your comments must be received in writing at Yelm’s City Hall by Tuesday, September 4 at 5pm.

WON’T YOU TAKE THE TIME TO PEN A LETTER TO LET THE PLANNING COMMISSION KNOW YOUR VIEWS;
AND THAT THE PLAN MUST “REFLECT THE PREFERENCES OF THE COMMUNITY.”

Posted by Steve on September 2, 2007 at 6:15 am | Permalink

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One comment

  1. Mr. Cunningham’s “leadership” as the chair of the Yelm Planning Commission goes to the heart of the document he purports to require little change. With such little knowledge and interest evident, it is no wonder the city is gridlocked… on many fronts.

    Comment by Jean Handley on September 5, 2007 at 10:31 am

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