Public meeting on Critical Areas Ordinance July 28, 5 p.m., in Friday Harbor High School's Hall Gym

Common Sense Alliance is hosting a public meeting on the Critical Areas Ordinance July 28, 5 p.m., in Friday Harbor High School's Hall Gymnasium.

Common Sense Alliance includes business owners, property rights organizations, real estate agents, members of the building industry, and other local residents concerned about how proposed changes to the Critical Areas Ordinance will impact their property. The forum is entitled, "The San Juan County Critical Areas Ordinance and The Future Use of Our Land."

Guest speakers are:

— William R. Maurer, executive director of the Institute for Justice Washington. His topic will be “The Washington Constitution, Private Property, and Government Power.”

Maurer's organization engages in constitutional litigation. He recently argued before the state Supreme Court against efforts by the government to classify on-air radio commentary as a reportable contribution under the state’s campaign finance law, a case San Juan County lost 9-0. Mauer has published several policy briefs and his cases have been covered in Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, and Washington papers.

— Dennis Reynolds will speak on “The Legal Obligations and Limitations of Government.” He has 37 years of experience as a public and private land use attorney, most recently with Davis Wright Tremaine. Previously, he was a public attorney with the Washington state Office of Attorney General, representing the Department of Fish and Wildlife, and as special counsel for the Department of Ecology.

Reynolds has worked on issues involving the Growth Management Act, Shoreline Management Act, State and federal Environmental Policy Acts, state Pollution Control Law, state Water Code, Clean Water Act, state Hydraulic Code, as well as other state, local and federal environmental law matters.

— Trent England directs the Citizenship & Governance Center at Evergreen Freedom Foundation. His topic: “How To Be An Effective Advocate.” England formerly served as a legal policy analyst and then a visiting fellow with The Heritage Foundation, where his research and writing focused on criminal law, Constitutional issues, and judicial nominations. England earned a law degree from The George Mason University School of Law and a bachelor of arts in government from Claremont McKenna College.

— Kenn Brooks, PhD, owner of Aquatic Environmental Sciences, will speak on "The What Why and How of Protecting Shorelines and Critical Areas."

Brooks is a retired Navy pilot with more than 600 carrier landings and 239 combat missions in Vietnam. He is a high-energy particle physicist and a marine ecologist. Brooks regularly publishes in peer-reviewed literature and represents the United States on two United Nations committees dealing with sustainable use of ocean resources.

He was chairman of the Jefferson County Conservation District for eight years and an elected member and chairman of the Washington state Conservation Commission.


Meanwhile, a County Council workshop on possible revisions to the county’s Critical Areas Ordinance has been rescheduled for Aug. 25, 1 p.m., in the San Juan Island Community Theatre.

Initially, the workshop had been scheduled for July 27, but it was rescheduled to allow more time for preparation.

In June, a public meeting on San Juan Island at the San Juan Island Fire Department on Mullis Street drew a larger-than-capacity crowd and vocal complaints that the venue was too small. That meeting was hosted by the Community Development and Planning Department, which is overseeing the development of the portion of the Critical Areas Ordinance involving the shoreline.

A controversy over required development setbacks from the shoreline has grown intense, with some critics saying that even discussing larger setbacks has affected home and property sales.

County Council members said they want to include information from all sides of the issues raised, as well as environmental and policy experts from the state Department of Ecology.

“I’m hoping that all of the issues that we are hearing can be surfaced that day,” Council Chairman Rich Peterson, San Juan North, said in a press release.

Councilman Bob Myhr, Lopez/Shaw, added, “There are so many rumors out there, if we can just get some of the facts out I think it would be really useful.”

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