An open house to discuss Clark County’s growth plan update quickly turned into a question-and-answer session with county Councilor David Madore, whose involvement in the zoning proposal has been hands-on all year.
At Hockinson High School on Monday, Madore presented an edited version of Alternative 4, his own zoning proposal to Clark County’s 20-year Comprehensive Growth Management Plan update. Madore’s proposal would allow for more subdivision in unincorporated Clark County of rural, agriculture and forest parcels than currently allowed under county code.
Madore also unveiled a newly updated set of planning assumptions, the framework by which the county’s land-use proposals are set. The planning assumptions predict how much Clark County’s population might expand over the next 20 years, where they’ll live and how property may develop.
“I proposed another set of assumptions that to me look more likely,” Madore told the audience.
Madore said his new assumptions would significantly reduce the number of lots created by both Alternative 1, which would make no changes to county zoning, and Alternative 4, the proposal he created at the urging of land use group Clark County Citizens United, while allowing for a larger population than the county approved earlier this year.
According to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the land-use alternatives, Alternative 1 could allow for the development of 7,073 new lots. Alternative 4 could create 12,401 new lots. But using Madore’s assumptions and calculations, Alternative 1 should only create 3,325 new lots, while Alternative 4 should create 6,638 new lots.
Madore was peppered with questions from audience members about the proposal and where his new numbers and assumptions came from.
Kay Hudziak, who later said she’s been concerned with the way the plans have been developed, asked Madore why the county is considering changing its proposals now.
Madore responded by saying it’s the county’s “due diligence” to go back and re-evaluate its planning assumptions and numbers to make sure they’re accurate.
“The answer to that is this has been an educational process not only to you, but to us guys,” Madore said.
Heidi Owens echoed Hudziak’s concerns, asking how Madore’s proposals have been vetted.
“We need the right methodology to really make these things work,” she said.
Susan Rasmussen, president of Clark County Citizens United and a vocal proponent of Alternative 4, asked whether the revised Alternative 4 was a new alternative or an update to previous versions.
Madore denied that his updated Alternative 4 rises to the level of a new alternative, saying it is only an updated version of a previous draft.
“The reason we call them drafts is because we expect them to be revised and improved,” Madore said.
Though Madore previously said the current planning assumptions have not been “vetted,” the board unanimously approved its assumptions most recently in April of this year. That resolution was an update of previous planning assumptions adopted in June 2014, updated only for a population increase of about 15,000 requested by Clark County’s cities.
At a recent workshop, Councilor Tom Mielke said he supported Madore’s assumptions, but the council still has to officially vote to adopt the new assumptions. That may trigger a complete overhaul of the comprehensive plan and its alternatives, planning staff have said, as the four alternatives were adopted with previous planning assumptions in mind.
The update must be completed and approved by the state Commerce Department by June 30 to comply with the state Growth Management Act. County planning staff have voiced concerns with meeting that deadline, though Madore denied that his new information has in any way put the county at risk.
“This process has not threatened, in my eyes, our schedule,” Madore said.
There will be a second open house from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Ridgefield High School, 2630 S. Hillhurst Road.
The Clark County Planning Commission will consider Madore’s proposals at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Public Service Center, 1300 Franklin St. in downtown Vancouver. The Planning Commission rejected an earlier version of Alternative 4 in September.
Regardless of the Planning Commission’s recommendations, however, the final decision rests with the Clark County council. The council is slated to select its preferred alternative, though it also may consider changing planning assumptions, at its 10 a.m. meeting Nov. 24.
Correction, Nov. 17, 1:37 p.m.: A previous version of this story mischaracterized the legality of one of Councilor David Madore’s planning assumptions. A more recent version of the example provided appears to comply with state law, according to deputy prosecutor Christine Cook. The story has been updated to remove the error.