Wednesday, October 22, 2003
The community of Lyle, with support from Klickitat County, is exploring a method to provide the town with more room to expand. The county has hired an experienced consultant to help with the technical aspects of the process, and to assist in figuring out how and where possible expansion of its urban boundaries could take place.
Lyle desperately needs to be let out of its box. Because of its location and constraints due to the National Scenic Area boundaries, the community has been squeezed. The consultant's projections, stretching out for the next 20 years, suggest the community will need approximately 100 additional acres to accommodate housing, commercial, and light industrial needs in Lyle.
The Klickitat County Board of Commissioners are to be commended for working with the Columbia River Gorge Commission to explore ways for Lyle to expand, and for bringing in experts to lay the groundwork for a fix. The commissioners have taken an aggressive approach by pushing for boundary adjustment approval from the Gorge Commission.
Although there is a process whereby Scenic Area communities can apply to widen their urban boundaries, it is a process that no other community has attempted since the passage of the National Scenic Area Act two decades ago. The commissioners are blazing new ground here. That takes courage and an enterprising attitude.
We fully support Lyle's efforts to expand, and, when and if the application is received, we urge the Gorge Commission to grant the community's request. Given its situation, allowing Lyle to enlarge its urban growth boundaries is essential to the community's future.
At last week's public meeting, however, some said the county and community should refuse to deal with the Gorge Commission on this issue, apparently because of philosophical disagreements with the National Scenic Area and the land use restrictions it spawned in the first place. In fact, County Commissioner Don Struck was disparaged by some in the crowd because he was working with the Gorge Commission to try to help Lyle.
That's unfair. Don Struck has been a strong voice in support of the community of Lyle over the years. And, since becoming commissioner, he has not hesitated to battle with the Gorge Commission when he felt that was necessary to protect the rights of local citizens. Yet he also seems to understand that, despite disagreements, people need to work together to solve problems and create progress.
Commissioner Struck -- who has literally been working overtime on this issue -- deserves support as he tries to fashion a real solution to the serious constraints Lyle is facing. He does not deserve to hear complaints.