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Community development candidates debate

The candidates for director of Community Development may have similar last names but that's about where the similarities end.

Sheila Roark-Miller, of Carlsborg, and incumbent John Miller, of Port Angeles, disagreed on environmental policies, storm water management and building regulation at a debate hosted by the Concerned Citizens of Clallam County on Monday, Aug. 23.

During the debate, Miller mentioned his interest in fish habitat and restoration. One of the biggest reasons for his acceptance of a job with the Elwha Tribe was to be part of the Elwha River restoration after the dams were removed, he said.

Roark-Miller said she does not support the dam removal.

"John Miller wants to protect salmon," she said early in the debate. "I want to mooch for it and eat it."

A question was asked about the newly-formed Building Code Board of Appeals. Miller said he was opposed to forming the board but now that it has been adopted, the role of the Department of Community is just to accept the appeals and pass it on to the board.

Roark-Miller said if she had been running the department, the board never would have been necessary.

The board was needed because of a lack of understanding about the rules and it never would've gotten to that point if she were in office, she said.

Another question addressed the department's use of a storm water manual and whether or not the candidates would prefer a local or state manual.

Roark-Miller said the department uses its own locally written ordinance and she would prefer the state manual because it is simpler.

Miller said the Department of Ecology's storm water manual is 4 to 5 inches thick and was written in 2005. He pointed out the Department of Public Works handles storm water regulation, not the Department of Community Development.

On the topic of whether or not regulations impact housing prices, Miller said most expenses have to do with on-site erosion and additional storm water requirements would apply based on the Puget Sound Partnership.

Roark-Miller said state and local regulations have a direct impact on housing costs. One such regulation required that a 2-foot foundation needed a water-protectant seal, she said. That affected turn-around time, labor and other areas of development, she said.

The regulation was removed later after members of the North Peninsula Building Association took issue with it and a county official researched the requirement, Miller said.

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