Clark County’s cities jump into Alt 4 debate

county maps

Kaitlin Gillespie/The Columbian                 Comprehensive plan maps on display in the county building.

The Clark County Council’s hosting a highly anticipated hearing on its contentious growth management options today. Actually, the show is underway right now, and based on the turnout, this one could drag on for quite a while. You can catch a live Twitter feed of county reporter Katie Gillespie’s coverage here.

Yes, we know. Land use planning. Zoning. Urban growth boundaries. Yawn… Is it happy hour yet?

The whole thing sounds a bit wonky and blah, but the process plays a pivotal role in shaping the future of Clark County’s rural lands and the economic growth potential for each of the county’s cities. It basically boils down to a conflict between rural landowners who want to break up their properties into much smaller lots and urban developers who argue that doing so would put a stranglehold on long-term commercial and industrial growth on the outskirts of several local cities.

Controversy erupted last month when Councilor David Madore surprised everyone — county planners, his fellow councilors and municipal leaders all over the county — by introducing his own idea for a comprehensive growth plan update: Alternative 4. In case you need a little refresher on what Madore has in mind, check out our story from Monday.

The move left planners and city leaders in each of Clark County’s cities stunned and perplexed for a number of reasons. Not only weren’t they expecting the proposal — a plan developed by a man who isn’t a professional planner — they firmly believed Alt 4 would hamper job growth in the long run. The plan also falls out of line with the intention of the state’s Growth Management Act, putting the county at risk of losing state funding, they said.

A number of officials from Clark County’s cities have shared concerns about Alt 4 at today’s hearing: Camas City Administrator Pete Capell, Battle Ground Mayor Shane Bowman, etc. Leading up the hearing, a letter to the councilors demanding a compromise began circulating.

Leaders in each Clark County city from Washougal and Vancouver all the way up to Woodland signed on, warning that they wouldn’t support Madore’s plan without some big changes. Below, you’ll find a link to a copy of that letter.

hearing joint cities letter signed

The response from the community hasn’t been real warm either. And speaking of cold responses, here’s what Madore had to say to county council candidate Chuck Green, who shared his own problems with Alt 4 yesterday.

Anyway, check out the letter and stay tuned for more coverage. But I wouldn’t hold out hope that this hearing will end before happy hour.

–Justin Runquist

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