Commissioner tells why she abstained |

Commissioner tells why she abstained

Sarah S. Chung

Although county commissioner Shellie Harper abstained from voting last week on a building moratorium for large houses, she says she supports the resolution’s underlying principles.

“I did agree with the concerns raised, but didn’t feel it needed to be done at five to 10 [p.m.],” said Harper of the vote taken at the tail end of a daylong joint Planning Commission/County Commission meeting.

“To vote `no’ would be saying I disagreed with the concerns; to vote `yes’ would say I supported the way they were going about it. So I decided abstaining was my only option,” she explained.

Harper said she would have preferred to vote at a later time after giving the public more notice; or better yet, see if members of the development community could come up with “concrete suggestions” that would address concerns without a moratorium.

But Harper agrees with the rest of the county commissioners that something had to be done.

“If we don’t get our arms around the problem, things will spiral out of control,” she said.

A primary concern for Harper is “importing” construction workers during a boom period. She’s wary of people moving here with dependence on an industry “that’ll go bust because it’s so superheated, and then they’re stuck.”

Another issue that troubles all five commissioners is the prospect of raising taxes in order to accommodate the impact of new residential developments.

“The evidence is clear and convincing that job growth and associated service demands are far exceeding this community’s ability or willingness to pay for those impacts,” the commissioners wrote in a letter to the community. “We believe that comprehensive growth management reform is required now to protect the taxpayers from further tax increases and/or service cuts.”

Harper, out of commission the last few days with the flu, did not sign the letter but stated she supported its content.

“Right now we don’t have anything built in to catch impacts of residential developments. That means taxpayers are paying for them and that’s wrong,” she said.

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