I am one of several hundred residents in the vicinity of Fifth Avenue and Lyle Street, East Wenatchee, where a 290-apartment complex is being proposed. The entire area is zoned Low Density Residential as is the proposed apartment complex property.

In any other county and/or jurisdiction this would be considered spot zoning and not allowed. Just the traffic impact alone should stop this project, much less three years of building with construction being allowed from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., and seven days a week interrupting the lives of several hundred residents many of whom are children.

When the appointed planning commissioners scheduled the first public hearing, it was cancelled due to lack of space for everyone to be seated (approximately 130-plus attended.)

The second scheduled public hearing was scheduled in the courthouse of Douglas County. Again, over 100 people attended.

The appointed planning commissions and staff were ill-equipped for this public hearing too. The planning commissioners did not have a microphone so the people in attendance could barely hear them and the only one available for the public was a very small one that usually is put on a person’s clothing which was passed from person to person. Totally inadequate and very unprofessional even though the people in charge had several weeks to prepare.

As an afterthought, the planning commissioners and public were told this was a quasi-judicial meeting; therefore, all the commissioners and speakers had to be sworn in, individually. No explanation was offered.

To the best of my recollection, never, at any point, was it announced this would be the only public hearing.

The attendees were led to believe there would be another public hearing before the elected Douglas County commissioners (as I had been told by staff) — only after the fact we were told this was not to be the case. The only people the elected officials are hearing from are the staff and whatever documentation they have been given by the staff.

Those of us who brought documentation were not allowed to give it to the appointed planning commissioners much less the elected officials at their meeting held later in the month.

No one can explain why it is quasi-judicial, why our elected officials cannot hear from the public, why only staff and appointed planning commissioners can be heard and how, after hours of testimony the appointed planning commissioners could, without reading any documentation make any decision much less a recommendation to approve the rezone, thus the project.

This whole process has been disjointed, poorly handled, and certainly the public concerns who are most affected have been ignored.

What makes this project so special only staff members at the county have access to our elected officials?

We, the people elect our officials, help them in their quest for office and should have the legal right to be heard by them — quasi-judicial or not. We are only asking for the same right — to be heard, in person, by those three elected commissioners.

Their decisions are the ones that will be affecting our neighborhoods, not the appointed planning commissioners who have no legal standing whatsoever.

We are not just a bunch of disgruntled people who have nothing better to do than complain about change. We are bankers, teachers, logging industry managers, elected officials, church members and very interested folks who care about their community and volunteer many hours. We have spent many hours, doing research, talking to people, looking at other judications policies and learning as much as we can about this process, getting petitions signed, putting packages of information together, writing letters to the editor and anything we can think of to get our message out.

To repeat, we just want the same privileges as the Douglas County staff, and appointed planning commissioners have: To be heard, in person, by our elected commissioners.

Douglas County sets May 24 date for Wilkinson project public hearing
Douglas County planning commission votes yes on 290 apartment units despite community pushback

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