Planning commission revises bylaws

The Sequim Planning Commission has adopted a set of revised meeting procedures to replace its long-standing bylaws in a 7-0 vote.

The bylaws drew criticism recently when it was discovered that a section that dealt with executive sessions was in conflict with state law.

According to RCW 42.30.110, sub-section H, executive sessions can be held “to evaluate the qualifications of a candidate for appointment to elective office. However, any interview of such candidate and final action appointing a candidate to elective office shall be in a meeting open to the public.”

However planning commissioners are not elected, they’re appointed. Holding an executive session to review candidates is therefore illegal.

City attorney Craig Ritchie said he had been wanting to change the bylaws for some time so they would comply with state code. In a March 6 e-mail to city planning director Dennis Lefevre, Ritchie wrote, “My preference would be to eliminate the bylaws entirely.”

Instead the bylaws, which now are being called “meeting” or “process” rules, were revised by Ritchie and planning commissioner Ted Miller and brought before the planning commission March 18.

“He basically just deleted the rules that pertain to executive session,” Miller said.

After a second review at its April 1 meeting, the commission also decided to exclude language from the proposed procedural rules that would allow commissioners to make last minute statements prior to a public meeting’s close.

Although the revised meeting procedures were approved, Miller said he would like Ritchie to attend a future commission meeting to explain the exact meaning of the excluded rule.

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