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Larry Freedman quits Sequim Planning Commission

Embattled Planning Commission chairman Larry Freedman resigned Monday night after telling the city council he didn't want to be a lightning rod that takes attention away from the city.

The council unanimously approved a motion stating they "regretfully" accepted Freedman's resignation after more than five years on the planning commission.

"It's clear that for whatever reasons, it's not working for the city," he said.

"I didn't want to do it but I was becoming the issue," he said.

Councilor Walt Schubert told Freedman, "I'm sorry you feel you had to make that decision. It's a loss for Sequim and the community."

Freedman, who was reappointed in December to a four-year term that would have expired Jan. 1, 2013, said he would continue working as a lawyer and a developer but now people couldn't say a project was being approved by the city because he was involved.

The surprise announcement came during a public hearing on proposed changes to two city ordinances dealing with "bulk and dimensional requirements."

If approved, the new ordinances would have allowed higher densities in the city's R-III and R-IV residential zones.

That would have allowed Freedman and his partners to develop his proposed 48-lot City Walk subdivision just south of the Sequim Aquatic and Recreation Center, which was the subject of the second scheduled public hearing.

But people called to testify on the proposed ordinance repeatedly testified against the proposed City Walk development.

After the first two people did so, Mayor Laura Dubois repeatedly reminded speakers of the hearing's subject and told them to wait for the next hearing.

The council eventually voted 4-2 to send the proposed ordinances back to city staff for a major overhaul. Councilors Bill Huizinga and Walt Schubert voted "no" and Councilor Paul McHugh was absent.

Then, because the proposed ordinance was necessary for approval of the City Walk development, the council canceled that public hearing.

City Clerk Karen Kuznek-

Reese said she would begin accepting applications for Freedman's position on the seven-person board.

During the Jan. 28, 2008, city council meeting, Freedman said he had been asked by Mayor Laura Dubois to resign from the Planning Commission.

Freedman remained on the planning commission after the council discussed the issue at its Feb. 11, 2008, meeting. He was re-elected as chairman at the Feb. 19, 2008, planning commission meeting.

Then Freedman was reappointed to a four-year term at the Dec. 8 city council meeting. The vote was 5-1 with City Councilor Erik Erichsen voting "no" and City Councilor Susan Lorenzen abstaining.

Erichsen and Lorenzen both said at that meeting they had heard while campaigning for city council in 2007 that, as a developer, Freedman shouldn't also serve on the planning commission.

The planning commission makes recommendations to the city council on land development actions, including zoning regulations and the city's comprehensive plan that is the framework for development within the city.

It also approves certain land-use actions, such as conditional-use permits and shoreline substantial development permits.

Brian Gawley can be reached at bgawley@sequim

gazette.com.



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