Thursday, January 24, 2002
At a special meeting, a majority of the members of the Snowden Community Council voted to appeal the county's "Echo Glen" rezoning approval to Superior Court.
However, the bylaws of the Snowden Community Council require that there be at least three days advance notice before a special meeting, and in this case there was apparently less than one day of notice.
Meeting on Jan. 19, the council voted 5-1 to take the case to Klickitat County Superior Court. The move follows last week's unanimous decision by the Klickitat County Board of Commissioners to reject an appeal by the Snowden Community Council.
The council objected to the county's approval of the rezoning of 80 acres of orchard land owned by Louis Huszar. Huszar requested an OK to change zoning on the parcel from "extensive agricultural and forest resource," with 20-acre minimum lot sizes, to "general rural." The general rural designation would have made it possible for the acreage, most of which was a pear orchard, to be developed as five-acre minimum residential lots.
Huszar, who is a member of the Snowden Community Council, was unable to be at the Saturday meeting due to a medical emergency in his family.
"I would have liked to have been there," Huszar said. "I could have explained the situation to the Community Council, who are going against the whole county infrastructure. Some people feel very strongly about this, I'm not sure why. We'll just see whether reason and logic will prevail."
Huszar said he believed the Community Council's vote was not legal because there was not proper notification for the special meeting, adding that he plans to be at the council's next regular meeting.
That meeting is set for Tuesday, Feb. 5.
Chris Connolly, president of the Community Council, could not be reached by press time regarding the contention that the special meeting was not valid.
Earlier, however, Connolly said the Community Council planned to consider the issue again at the Feb. 5 meeting, and a new vote on whether or not to proceed with the appeal might take place at that time.
Connolly explained that the appeal decision was reached because council members do not believe county officials are hearing their concerns.
"The council feels it is important that we get to be heard by an impartial arbiter," Connolly explained. "We just don't feel like the county has been objective. They are not being representative of the larger community."
Huszar noted that the case appeared to be directed more at the county than at his particular situation.
"Basically this is the Snowden Community Council suing the county government," he explained. "We'll see what the judge will decide."
Huszar added that he was not happy with the situation.
"It could be dragged out for months, and I'm powerless to stop it," he said. "I'm going to let things take their course."
Connolly noted that "private property rights" was one of the underlying issues behind the county's decision to OK the rezoning request.
"Adjacent property owners feel like their property rights are being infringed on," she explained. "They bought property next to a 20-acre zone with the expectation that the existing zoning would be upheld. They considered zoning when they moved into the area."